Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time [II]
Sirach 48:1-14 + Matthew 6:7-15
June 16, 2016
“…all gods are prostrate before Him.” [Psalm 97:7]
In the modern culture that surrounds us, the word “prostrate” has many negative connotations. By contrast, within Catholic culture during the rite of ordination the ordinand lays prostrate on the ground. He re-lives this ritual action every year on Good Friday, when at the beginning of the service he makes the same action.
Of course, there is at least one significant difference between those two acts of prostration within the Sacred Liturgy. The Good Friday service commences in silence, and we might compare that silence to the silence in Garden of Gethsemani, as Jesus looked forward to what was about to happen to Him, similar to how the priest laying on the ground is mindful of the rites that will transpire throughout the course of the service, liturgically making present the sacred mysteries of Jesus’ Passion and Death.
On the other hand, while the ordinand lays prostrate in the moments before his ordination, the assembly chants the Litany of the Saints. The names of all those saints, and more significantly, the prayers of all those saints wash over the ordinand in waves. The ordinand surely is mindful especially of those saints who themselves labored on earth as priests, and especially those saintly priests whose lives ended in martyrdom. How could a humble ordinand consider his prostration as negative? How could he think of it as anything but a gift, to submit himself in such an action of prostration?
From this perspective of Catholic culture, a clear point of meditation suggests itself as the Psalmist sings, “all gods are prostrate before him.” Petty gods, including those of individualism and self-advancement, may well cringe to prostrate themselves before the living God. But for all others, to prostrate oneself before the living God is to recognize the justness of prostrating oneself before one’s Creator, not only to give thanks but also to be sustained in creation, and to be strengthened for service to the living God.
Alien gods are borne of the Tempter’s suggestion to Eve that one might have one’s eyes opened and become like gods. Saints are borne from the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, who crushes the Tempter beneath her heel and suggests instead that you do whatever Jesus tells you.