Fr. Barry’s Homily 11/26-27 1st Sunday of Advent “Didache” (DID-uh-kay)
Introduction to Mass– Do the Didache. That’s the homily title today. I will explain it later. The homily today is part of a “Five Loaves” preaching series of five homilies for our Advent theme at St. Edward’s. We purposely jumped the gun and preached one of the five Advent homilies earlier, as on Thanksgiving, with Deacon Barnes, because there are five practices of key Catholic living that we wanted to cover for this Advent, and the season has just four Sundays in it, with this one being its first. So today is Homily #2 of a series of 5. Deacon preached on Diaconia (or Giving Thanks by Devoted Service) on Thursday.
Five Sundays from now is Christmas Day. By then you’ll also know what this whole “Five Loaves” approach of being Catholic is about. What are these “Five Loaves?” They are practices of the First Church, as found in Acts 2:42. The five practices have Greek terms that go along with them. See if you recognize any in your Catholic upbringing: They are “Diaconia,” “Didache,” “Koinonia,” “Liteurgia,” and “Kerygma.” So—each week we will review what one means. Today it will be “Didache.” Thank you.
“Do the Didache.” Didache is an early Church practice which is something worth looking into. In Acts 2:42 it says, that among five things, how the first disciples met regularly for the teachings. This is what is Didache. “Didache” basically means to “seek the true teachings, so as to live by them.” “Didache” means to seek the Lord’s teachings and explanations, and as He has given to us, the Church, to thus be practiced faithfully until His Return.
The word “Didache” was first known as the name of a first century document, also known as “The Teachings of the 12 Apostles,” which taught and explained how the Church was to practice her Sacraments faithfully, as in staying with the original teachings of Jesus on it. It was an important teaching back then to know how to do Mass, since it was mostly an undercover operation. The early Church was under heavy persecution.
Sometimes the word Didache was also used to describe the writings and explanations of the true and orthodox Catholic faith, as did St. Ignatius of Antioch as the world was turning past 100 a.d. The bishop-martyr wanted to keep the Church in fidelity, to keep her Catholic (that is, to be a spread-out, universal Church who kept to the one teaching in Christ). Thus, Ignatius, understood the role of apostle or bishop as leading Christ’ Flock to “seek the true teachings, so as to live by them.” Ignatius was the one who said that, and if a person followed the True Teachings, then they were “catholic.” He pretty much coined the term Catholic, and it went along with the word Didache, the following and learning of the True teachings passed on by Christ.
Here’s a picture of the 1st century didache.
Do the Didache is my little spin phrase on “let us do the true teachings passed down to us from Christ Jesus. Do the Didache. The Church wants people in her flock to keep informed in the Lord and in reliable teachings.
How does the Advent Gospel today match up with Didache?
In today’s Gospel Jesus warns us of His Second Coming. Even while still here in His First Coming, Jesus explained to us how a time period would come and last for the Church, of waiting and preparing, but then He would make a Glorious Return. That time period is called The Advent of The Lord. As He describes it, via Luke’s quotes, Jesus says that in the end days it will look a lot like it was in the time of Noah, when people were not much concerned with the signs and messages of obeying God. The people then were “going along to get along”, oblivious of the danger of the coming great flood. Their brash, sinful behaviors towards God were enough to stoke His wrath to allow such an earth-altering Event. The people had not listened to God; neither would they pay any heed to the prophetic figure He raised up for that time, in Noah. God spoke to Noah, and Noah gave the warnings out of a day of reckoning to come, but almost all the people paid no serious attention to the warnings Noah gave. (What if only they did?) How about in today’s time? Who is living their Advent of the Second Coming of Christ?
Paying heed to Christ’ Teachings, and keeping up with them, and delving deeper in commitment to them is Didache. We live and look to remain steadfast in the Teachings of our Savior, so to be ready for His Return.
When is He coming?! Oh, there are some end-of-the-world alarmists, in their crazed mode, saying that it’s happening before the end of 2016, but we need not discuss them here. Our reliable Noahs of today are more central, faithful figures, such as Pope Francis. Call him a Noah figure. After the Paris terrorist bombings, Francis spoke a word to the world and to the Parisians, and after expressing opposition to such killing sprees in the blasphemous name of God (as by Allah), the pope asked the Parisians and others, that, in such times like these, could we say that, with our lives not always safe anymore, are we ready for the Lord? While some blaspheme God, are we rather blessing Him steadfastly? (In context: Many have fallen away from the Faith in Paris and in France, as in some other places.) Francis is quoted saying, then, in last November: “In the end times, are we vigilant and ready at any moment to meet God face to face?… At the end of the world Jesus’ triumph will be the triumph of the cross, the demonstration that the sacrifice of oneself out of love for one’s neighbor, in imitation of Christ, is the only victorious power and the only stable point in the midst of the upheavals and tragedies of the world.” He added: “We (believers) are called to watchfulness (in faith) and in our days there is no lack of natural and moral disasters–calling us to be focused and ready at all times.”
Friends, that’s a Noah call. He basically said: One could focus outside of things, and focus on only being mad at the terrorists here, but what about also asking about how our own hearts and faith are doing? Peril will come, to Paris, here, elsewhere– but how can we endure it out without being in the right place with God? Like Noah.
The Catholic Church herself is a Noah figure as we go now into Advent season to remind ourselves and all people that indeed Jesus will return, and will people be ready for that? The Ark now is the Body of Christ, the Church, and we all need to get really into Jesus, and His Sacraments and Reign into our souls and bodies. We can only be saved in Him.
Back to today’s gospel, and the meaning of Didache. Noah was spared because he spent regular time with God, listening to Him, and being guided by Him, and obeying Him for salvation. While it was a demanding project, he kept with it. We in the Church have to listen, be guided, and obey God for the salvation to come to us in the Glory of the Lord revealed that is to come. This means taking the time to continuously be taught by God. John 6:45 says of defining the true disciple: “They shall all be taught by God.” Christ Jesus gives us the holy teachings to follow. Christ has given us the Church to steadfastly live out His teachings. Will we Do the Didache?
I put the Adult Catechism and the Teen Catechism on the display in front of our Advent altar to represent the “Didache” way of life. These objects remind us of Jesus’ words that “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled or satisfied.” As you eat the leftover turkey or ham, and stuffing, and sides, and pies– remember something else today. EAT THE HOLY TEACHINGS. BE WISE. EAT THE TEACHINGS OF THE LORD. BE STEADFAST IN YOUR ONGOING LEARNING OF THE LORD.
As you “seek the teachings,” Deacon Barnes found a cool New American Revised Version Bible that links bible chapters and verses over to related references to the Catholic Catechism teachings. Quite interestingly, it is called the Didache Bible. Now, what are other ways to “seek the teachings?” Other sacred books are out there to read. We also provide some music videos on our parish web site, as an inspiration to take that means to grow along in faith. This Friday, we have a Catholic songwriter/musician visiting the parish in Kathleen Fowle. Come here her marvelous words and soothing music and testimony. People have ministries to teach and bless us in what they have found in God.
In still another way to seek the teachings (or Do the Didache), sometimes the Lord just wants to teach things from your life experiences and first-hand learning. Can you slow down to reflect on your life and do so with God? Some people keep a spiritual journal to collect down some of the choice blessings they are learning prayerfully in God for living well.
A whole other application can be for people who are able to do so to sometime join into a Catholic small group to study the Faith.
So we have now two phrases for your Advent practice. Advent means “coming.” We are in the expected coming time of the Lord Who promised to arrive to us again for the Omega part of all things on earth, before it will be made anew. As a funny poster put it: “The Lord is Coming Soon, so start looking busy, for when He arrives, you’ll be in good stead!” But we aren’t to just appear to be busy, right? “Diaconia” (Our first of the five practices) called for us to be so thankful to God’s part in your lives so that it would lead to inspired service to others born of the Love of God. How could “Diaconia” help St. Edwards? Well, we can always use inspired, engaged persons in a parish to help her grow in God. Your service in love and thanks this week could be to take someone to the Friday concert here. Give yourself and another a spiritual gift this Friday.
“Didache,” today’s lesson, refers to teaching and learning and knowing God, and how to be His child, and how to be His people. Eat up what will help you to that goal. It will bless us all. ###
The other 3 of the Five Loaves will be spelled out in the coming Sundays.
Didache “Seek the teachings” Second of the Five Loaves of Acts 2:42 of Healthy Catholic Practices “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread, and the prayers.”
SEEK THE TEACHINGS
The spiritual life requires the regular practice of seeking wisdom and understanding. The disciples called Jesus “Teacher” and we read in the scriptures that the early community devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. Didache (Greek) names our desire to go deeper, to hear the inner voice that directs our heart. In the second generation of the original Catholic Church, St. Ignatius of Antioch, a bishop, spoke to the need for each believer to hunger for the Bread of Christ, in Sacrament, but also deeply in Word and in Teaching and lived lessons in Him in community and personal edification. Ignatius reinforced the value of having authentic, appointed shepherds to the Flock of Christ (like himself) so that people were following Jesus’ teachings as first given, and heading aright. Remember Jesus urged us to ask God for help, in “Give us this daily bread…” and how He said “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; they shall have their fill and be satisfied.”
The WORD of teaching is revealed to us in many ways: through the scriptures, through the writings of the prophets and mystics, through the witness of holy men and women living as disciples in all ages, through experiences that teach us, through friends who offer insights, through moments of discovery, through suffering and difficult times, through reading, contemplation, meditation, and all types of prayer. Ultimately, the Source is the same, for God’s WORD goes forth and does not return until it accomplishes in us what is intended, as Scriptures attests. It also says: Blessed are they who hear the WORD of God and keep it.
Where do you turn regularly for inspiration and guidance, for wisdom and perspective? What practices help your understanding in life’s difficult moments and to hear the voice of the Teacher?