Catechetical Spot

The Great Comma

It will not be long before we conclude Ordinary Time in the Liturgical Calendar and enter the season of Advent. Advent will begin on December 1 this year. Before we move into that season, we might give some thought to the gospel readings that have been proclaimed all during the summer from the gospel community of Luke. They have been very challenging. We have been challenged by Luke to think about our relationship to wealth, to gratitude, to our prayer life just to name a few. All have come from teachings of Jesus.

In the matter of celebrations, we like the celebration of Christmas and that of Easter. Of course, loving the baby Jesus is easy. Who cannot love an innocent infant. Celebrating Easter can become a favorite as well. In this celebration we can easily slip into rejoicing that we are saved through the death and resurrection of Jesus. It can become a “me” celebration indicating that Jesus died for me and saved me.

In reading a book by Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, I found some thoughts that gave me pause. He reminded the reader that most Catholics have learned the Apostles Creed. Those who pray the rosary, begin with the Apostles Creed. It is thought to be the earliest creed. What is remarkable, according to Rohr, is that the Creed does not mention the teachings of Jesus that we hear proclaimed in the gospels. I quote his observation. “But have you ever noticed the huge leap the creed makes between ‘born of the Virgin Mary’ and ‘suffered under Pontius Pilate?’ A single comma connects the two statements, and falling into that yawning gap, as if it were a mere detail is everything Jesus said and did between his birth and his death! Called the Great Comma this gap certainly invites some serious questions.” Included in the questions we might ask ourselves is “Was it only his birth and death that mattered?”

Perhaps this is why we find it difficult to follow Jesus as we ought. As we have learned this summer during Ordinary Time, the challenges Jesus puts before us are great. Let us not be trapped by the Great Comma but instead, let us accept the challenge of being a true believer of Jesus by way of his teachings in the gospels we hear proclaimed.

~by Helen Ackermann