Saturday, 3 January 2015


Whenever I see a play on a theatre stage or on a cinema/TV screen it does me good. It opens up my world, it enlightens and enriches my world! Reading a certain type of novel has the same effect on me! It’s not that I’m escaping the ‘real world’ by entering the world of fiction. I find I’m being drawn into, even sharing in the world of other people – their joys, sorrows, successes and failures. I would even go so far as to say that these excursions throw light on my own self, my own world. I identify with the characters when the presentation, the narrative, is convincing. I take sides with my ‘heroes’ and turn against my ‘villains!’
Well do I remember seeing a film in which the hero was killed. From the darkness of the cinema our ears were assaulted with a piercing howl of grief. The poor soul had really become involved with him. No longer was she a passive observer. She’d moved into the realm of audience participation, personal involvement! And I’m not ashamed to admit that a play has so moved me that tears have run down my cheeks.
The Church has long seized the opportunity to harness the power of drama in the presentation of its message. This is one way of showing us how to responds to St. John’s injunction for us to,
“keep alive in you what you heard from the beginning,” (1 Jn. 2. 24).
Christmas-tide had many of us eagerly watching Nativity Plays. Actors were encouraged to ‘get inside' the characters they were playing –as Mary or Joseph, the shepherds or magi. They were challenged to ‘play out’ the way they would have reacted if they had been present when Jesus was born.
The marvel is that such drama helps not only the actors, but also the audience, to enter the mysteries of our salvation. This approach can also bring the Sacred Scriptures alive for us, if we make the effort to identify with the various characters in the Drama of Salvation as it unfolds in the Bible.
We can say much the same about the way we celebrate the Sacred Liturgy.
In a unique way this makes present to us the drama of our personal salvation. At Christmas we not only celebrate the birthday of our Saviour, but our own birthdays as the children of God, whom Jesus came to save. With Jesus becoming alive as a member of the Family of Man, we become alive in the Family of God. Each Christmas celebration should renew our life as the children of God and followers of Christ. Entering into the spirit of Christmas should mean allowing the drama of the birth of Jesus to re-shape the way we live. We should not remain passive, detached observers.
Our celebration of each of the great feasts marks events in the drama of our salvation. At the Epiphany we should identify with the Magi as they rejoiced at the salvation Jesus offered the pagan world. With increasing wonder we should make Jesus ever more welcome in our lives. More than this, the Epiphany should become so much a part of us that we become ‘Living Epiphanies’ radiating the glory of God. This should be our approach as we celebrate the great Solemnities of the Liturgical Year as well as the message within the ordinariness of Ordinary Time.
Remember how this reflection began with our allowing ourselves to be seized by the drama of the stage, the screen, the written word? Do we want our celebration of the liturgical drama to draw us into the Mysteries of the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus? Do we want this to melt us, mould us into the People Jesus means us to be? Bring about a dramatic change, improvement, in ourselves???
Or do we remain distant, semi-detached onlookers, who enjoy celebrating the liturgy –providing it doesn’t mean any radical, inconvenient changes to the way we live? Indifference to the drama of salvation is a kind of rejection. We should be asking ourselves these serious questions.

 Isidore O.P.

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