In the Biblical Sense…

JMJ

The Readings for the Vigil of the Nativity of St John Baptist

Priusquam te formarem in utero, novi te 
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you  

I’ve been reading Brant Pitre’s Jesus the Bridegroom which sets out, like many of Dr Pitre’s works, to remind Catholics of the Jewish roots of our religion. As I’ve said from time to time, we are Jews, just different Rabbis. Anyway, just before I got to Mass tonight (it’s late Saturday as I write) he was discussing the verb “Yada” which means “to know”. But it means to know intimately, by experience. For example, it’s in the Eden story as “the knowledge of Good and Evil” meaning that eating the fruit was not some Gnostic initiation, but rather the act of disobeying was the event of knowing in itself. It’s also in the Eden story as “Adam knew his wife”, the source and meaning of “to know in the Biblical sense”.  It’s the level of intimacy that requires doing to know.

Dr Pitre points out that God promises the People of Israel that they will know Him and He will know them at this level of intimacy.

When I got to Mass, this word, yada, was on the lips of the preacher, pointing out that God knows us, Yada, all that intimately. This is promised in this reading from Jeremiah: “before you were formed in the womb, I yada’ed you.” It was, the homilist said, the job of the priest to serve as Matchmaker, as Yenta, for this divine intimacy. But, more importantly, it was for all of us to experience and to serve as catalysts of this relationship for others.

This is the level at which God seeks us out and yet without our consent will not go. This is the deep level at which we are all wooed yet we constantly seek to hide away like Adam in the Garden. There is no place we go that God is not willing to go with us to bring us back to Him.

Then we sang, during communion, this hymn, for what else is the Eucharist, but the eternal feast of God’s Bridal Chamber, present to us here and now?

O thou, who at thy Eucharist didst pray
that all thy church might be for ever one,
grant us at every Eucharist to say
with longing heart and soul, ‘Thy will be done’:
O may we all one bread, one body be,
through this blest sacrament of unity.
..  ..  …
For all thy church, O Lord, we intercede;
make thou our sad divisions soon to cease;
draw us the nearer each to each, we plead,
by drawing all to thee, O Prince of Peace:
thus may we all one bread, one body be,
through this blest sacrament of unity.
 ..  ..  ..
We pray thee too for wanderers from thy fold;
O bring them back, good Shepherd of the sheep,
back to the faith which saints believed of old,
back to the church which still that faith doth keep:
soon may we all one bread, one body be,
through this blest sacrament of unity.
 ..  ..  ..
So, Lord, at length when sacraments shall cease,
may we be one with all thy church above,
one with thy saints in one unbroken peace,
one with thy saints in one unbounded love:
more blessèd still, in peace and love to be
one with the Trinity in Unity.

The whole point of the Mass, the Church, the Priesthood, and of all the Baptized is to draw all the world back into this unity of Love and Person, of Knowing and Being, of Presence and Intimacy. We are wooing the world to God.

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