18 May 2012

On the Empty Show

A favorite whipping boy person (inclusiveness, right?) of many in the Church right now is the Third Roman Missal.  The out and out talk about rebellion -- refusal to abide by the new translations -- has largely died down.  I myself am growing accustomed to the new prayers.  And, as I expected (at least in my case) I'm actually growing to love new parts of the mass.  What caught me most especially in recent days was the Preface for the Ascension.  Beautiful.

But, this isn't a post about that.  Instead, I wanted to focus on something that caused no small bit of laughter on Easter.

In the renewal of baptismal vows, the people are asked to reject Satan, his works and his empty show.  I'll admit, I chuckled.  "Empty show."  How innovative.  Shame on me for not picking up the scriptural reference.

On Tuesday, the office of readings offers this bit of wisdom from the second chapter of the First Letter of John (1 Jn. 2:16):

Carnal allurements, enticements for the eye, the life of empty show -- all these are from the world.  And the world with its seductions is passing away but the man who does God's will endures forever. 
Interesting.  A clear reference.  But, then we turn to the current NAB translation and find this:

For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world.
I'll need to spend some time with the Vulgate (and, gasp, perhaps check out the Greek), but it seems as if the talk of Satan's empty show finds a root in Scripture.

And what's more, when you think about it, isn't his show quite empty?

1 comment:

PJA said...

I haven't looked at the Greek myself, but empty show (especially since it is translated later as a life of pretense) might be an allusion to some sort of hypocrisy. Again, haven't looked at the Greek and maybe I'm seeing connections where there are none, but I'll roll with it (if for nothing else, then for the fun of a sort of exercise in mental connectivity--we can call it that to sound smart, can't we?)... Anyway, if we can see a connection to "hypocrisy" proper and we trace that, hypocrites, in ancient Greece, were the actors in the theater. That's where the word comes from; it was the name for those who wore the masks and played the part upon the stage in the ancient theaters. Clever to describe the Evil One this way. he is a supreme actor, if we can suspend our fondness of any favorite movie stars or celebrities for a moment and apply a (fair) negative connotation. He plays the part of making a fool out of the (apparently) wise. He puts on the mask of the virtuous whereby he can lead the truly virtuous to vice! He dresses up evil, wickedness, crookedness, pride, vanity, falsehood and all things worthless in garments of gold, sapphire and precious stones, he makes the truly unpalatable delicious and he takes what cannot fill and lets you look at in a way such that you might think it will offer you eternal satisfaction--and then he turns it on you! And you will see the emptiness where you thought plenty, the garbage where you thought a banquet and the rags where you thought beautiful clothes. He offers you nothing, but in such a fake, pretentious, masked, showy way that you chase after it, desire it and embrace it. Only to feel it dissipate in your grasp, for nothing it truly is. And maybe we can be so bold as to say Christ is the only real non-hypocrite. he tells us what we will face--persecution, hatred, suffering, and all the rest--but he is honest about our reward, which truly awaits us. There is no vanity, no falsity, no pretense or show to his words. the Gospel does not need to be dressed up for it stands alone in all it's glory; it's beauty, conviction and power come from the fact that it contains truth (for it was written by the Truth). [Another connection here, this may be why Augustine is keen about the different styles of speech and how preaching proper does not necessitate showy language or fancy airs, for the Gospel stands on its own. Interesting.] Thus, Christ is the only true man, who never is pretentious, who never puts up a facade and who never leads astray. And maybe this is why it is so hard to follow him, because he is so daringly honest, so bluntly plain, so fearfully true. It is easier to convince ourselves of a pleasant falsity than to embrace a difficult truth. By God, may You give us the grace to do the latter, and so fight the pretentious Evil One who seeks to fool us from Your way. AMDG. Amen.