A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The chosen one at Babylon

Near the end of today’s first reading (1 Peter 5:5b-14) we find the reason for its selection on the Feast of Saint Mark: Peter refers to “Mark, my son.” This Mark has been traditionally identified as a special assistant to Peter and as the writer of the Gospel that today bears his name.

In that same sentence is this cryptic reference:

The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting…

In the early Church, especially during New Testament times, “Babylon” (the capital of the evil empire that had oppressed the Jewish people) was a code word for “Rome” (the capital of the evil empire that was oppressing the Christian people). [Some anti-papal scholars, imagining that Peter was never Bishop of Rome, opine that while “Babylon” may mean Rome in some New Testament books, it does not mean Rome here. Yeah, right.]

Likewise, “the chosen one” or “the elect woman” is traditionally understood in New Testament writings to mean “the church” (and was often translated as such). [A few commentators try to twist this into a reference to Peter’s wife. Give me a break.]

The traditional New Testament meaning of this cryptic reference also has meaning for us in the global village which we call the modern world, for by the grace of God we are the elect lady, the chosen one, the church in the heart of today’s evil empire: a culture of death, perversion and despair that in varying ways oppresses Christians and indeed all people of faith and good will.

Yet just as many of the church of Rome stayed in Rome, despite its corrupting influences and physical dangers, so do we: striving by the grace of God to shine the light of faith, truth and love amid a gathering gloom and deepening decadence.

Although many would fall and many would perish, in time and by the grace of God the Christians of Rome would enable the heart of the evil empire to become the center of Christendom.

So too we should not be discouraged or fearful, no matter what we see around us. Rather, we must be faithful and strong in the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we have been chosen – even in Babylon.