Passover, the Jewish holiday known as Pesach, begins at sundown this evening (April 14th). It commemorates the Israelites' escape from Egyptian slavery and it is observed with a ritualized meal consisting of unleavened bread and cups of wine. On this evening, the youngest person at the table will ask the question, "Why is this night different from all other nights?"
I love the fact that the celebration of Passover begins with a question.
Prior Pope John XXIII, Catholics were not really encouraged to ask questions. Then Vatican II came along – and the voices of the faithful began to be heard. Questions soon came forth and they haven’t stopped. Albeit, some of the questions raised are somewhat nonsensical. Like, “Is it OK for the priest to wash the feet of men AND women at the Holy Thursday liturgy?” And, “Is it really OK for the congregation to read the part of the ‘crowd’ during the passion readings of Palm Sunday and Good Friday?”
But as we celebrate the first year of Pope Francis, we are hearing real meaningful and substantial questions coming forth. Such as, “Should the Church really consider married priests?” According to a recent article in The Tablet, the Pope is encouraging the Bishops around the world to bring that question to him.
And then we have the question of divorced Catholics and their reception of the sacraments – a topic that will be certainly covered at the Bishop’s Synod this October. After all, Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation, said “The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak. These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness . . . The church is not a tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems."
Sounds like some of the right questions are finally being asked. Sounds like the wishes of soon-to-be Saint John XXIII of bringing in fresh air to Church may be on the breath of the faithful – of you – asking these needed questions to the right people and looking and expecting Gospel based answers - finally.