By analogy, how a diamond reflects light depends on the way the diamond is cut, whether round brilliant or one of the fancy cuts, such as the mixed Princess, rose, Antwerp rose, double Dutch rose, heart, oval, pear, stars, butterflies, emerald, triangle, kite, trapeze. The list goes on. The point is that love, like diamonds, comes with many different facets and types of brilliance. Love is anything but simple. Love also changes with individuals as they mature and over time as social customs and civilizations change.
The readings for today give the Faithful facets of the love of God within a Lenten context. The Genesis readings begin with a sort of contract or covenant, between God and Israel. Psalm 25 is about humans not keeping up their side of the covenant. Psalm 25 is about combating sin with love. The Church uses Psalm 25 at funerals and at visits to the sick. 1 Peter is about Jesus stepping in to intercept and block the evil in the hearts of humans with his own divine love. The Gospel is about the Lenten need to make an effort to be good and resist the temptations of Satan. None of this is simple. All of this is complex.
love appears as God giving humans another chance with no mention of any
insistence humans be good in return. As
That notwithstanding, the Day of Atonement was an effort to preserve the covenant despite sin. Psalm 25 recognizes the need to be good and to have God show how to do it. Psalm 25:8, he shows sinners the way. Unconditional love is not part of the bargain. Human response, imperfect as it must be, is demanded. Trying to meet that demand is the purpose of Lent.
Human responses require thinking. Psalm 25 is an alphabetic acrostic, meaning that each verse begins with another of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. In Psalm 25, each line actually begins with the next letter of the twenty-two letter Hebrew alphabet and is twenty-two lines long. Anthony R. Ceresko, O.S.F.S. writes that
Frank Moore Cross has reminded us of the impact of the alphabet in the
evolution of human civilization: “(T)he invention of the alphabet was a unique
as well as a revolutionary gift to human culture, marking a major transition in
the history of human thought and social institutions.” Indeed,
The older elitist and relatively static and hierarchical societies of
the Near East gave way to new, dynamic societies, alphabetic societies which
reached their pinnacle in the ancient world in
What I wondered about in the Greek was who was unbelieving and who was waiting. The Greek has the inanimate patience waiting. The verb is third person, singular, middle imperfect, indicative. This means that patience is the subject doing the waiting. However, because the waiting reflects back upon itself, in the middle voice, the English translation can have either God or the spirits in prison doing the waiting. The English translations sometimes have the spirits waiting; at other times God waiting. The pertinent parts of the translations are highlighted below.
Lectionary (1998): In
it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of
The Vulgate (circa 410): in quo et his, qui in carcere erant; spiritibus adveniens praedicavit, qui increduli fuerant aliquando, quando exspectabat Dei patientia in diebus Noe, cum fabricaretur arca, in qua pauci, id est octo animae, salvae factae sunt per aquam.
Douay-Rheims (1582-1610): In which also coming he preached to those spirits that were in prison: which had been some time incredulous, when they waited for the patience of God in the days of Noe, when the ark was a building: wherein a few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water.
King James (1611): By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a [sic] preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
New American (1970): In it he also went to preach to the spirits
in prison, who had once been disobedient
while God patiently waited in the
New Jerusalem (1985): and, in the spirit, he went to preach to the
spirits in prison. They refused to believe long ago, while God
patiently waited to receive them, in
Part of the issue, above, turns on the spirits. How does the
translator regard the spirits, as
humans dying before Christ or as devils.
In the first case,
The facets of love involved focus both on humans and on evil spirits. They also focus on human imperfectability passing on the Word of God in both the original manuscripts and the final eclectic Greek text and subsequent translations. Part of repentance for human imperfection in the New Testament involves the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Finding a prudent confessor can be a difficult task.
Agneta Schreurs, in Psychotherapy and Spirituality: Integrating the spiritual dimension into therapeutic practice, cites data that clergy often refer parishioners to psychotherapists, while therapists never refer patients to clergy. This means spiritual direction and psychotherapy are only integrated with difficulty. As reluctant as clergy are to step away from psychotherapy, at least they are more willing than psychotherapists are to step away from spiritual direction. In his love, God both demands that humans live holy lives and God requires persistence and insight striving for such sanctity, even through the love facets of psychotherapy.
As a final note for 1
The Ordo observes that the first three weeks of Lent call for “a life of Gospel conversion.” In the weekday passages for the second half of Lent, “Christ is presented as the healer and life-giver .… The shift from the `ethical’ to the `Christological’ is no accident.”
The Ordo goes on,
… hitting us again and again with demands which we not only fail to obey, but which we come to recognize as being quite beyond us, the Gospel passages are meant to trouble us, to confront our illusions about ourselves .… its purpose is not to confirm us in our sense of virtue but to bring home to us our radical need of salvation.
Accepting that the Gospels deliberately upset the
Faithful, in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is with the wild beats not as a Second
Adam in a new
Looking to Revelations 4:6, Barker gives the wild
beasts an esoteric value. “The sequence
Actual love fits into a time frame. Mark 1:15, the
In summary, the meaning of these readings is that the love of God for the Faithful as individuals is as complex and complicated as the love of the Faithful for one another. Love is at least as complicated and as beautiful as light. Just as the Faithful agree never to hurt one another again, so do the Faithful (implicitly) and God (explicitly) agree never to hurt one another after Noah’s flood.
Psalm 25 is a complex acrostic offering of everything
contained and to be contained in the alphabet, that is, written language. Psalm 25 also looks to God to show the way to
find him. 1
For more on sources see the Appendix file. Personal Notes are on the web site at www.western-civilization.com/CBQ/Personal%20Notes
 N.a., International Commission on English in the Liturgy: A Joint Commission of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences, The Roman Ritual: Revised by Decree of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and published by Authority of Pope Paul IV: Order of Christian Funerals: Including Appendix 2: Cremation: Approved for use in the Dioceses of the United States of America by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and Confirmed by the Apostolic See (New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1998) 224, 254, 262, 268.
 The Roman Ritual: Revised by Decree of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and Published by Authority of Pope Paul VI: Pastoral Care of the Sick: Rites of Anointing and Viaticum: Approved for use in the dioceses of the United States of America by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and Confirmed by the Apostolic See: Prepared by International Commission on English in the Liturgy: a Joint Commission of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co. 1983) 172, 283.
 Henry Wansbrough, General Editor, The New Jerusalem Bible (New York: Doubleday, 1985).2005, fn l.
The Order of Prayer in the Liturgy
of the Hours and Celebration of the Eucharist: 2006: Year B: Sunday Cycle: Year
2: Weekday Cycle: Archdiocese of Louisville: Dioceses of Arlington, Covington,
Lexington, Owensboro, Richmond; Wheeling-Charleston, Rev.
 John Paul Heil, “Jesus with the Wild Animals in Mark 1:13, the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 1 (January 2006) 63-78.
 http://wwwl.google.com/search?client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3A..(accessed February 12, 2006, 9:44 p.m., page 1/2).
Margaret Barker, The Great high