Thursday, May 7, 2009

Nomads & Revelations

Yet another example of 6th graders teaching themselves:

Hey y'all, what's a nomad? Somebody who wanders around. Do they live in houses? No, tents. Trick question: where do nomads start from? Nowhere, they just wander. Next trick question: where do they finish? They just wander, they don't start or finish!

Yes. What's a pilgrim? Somebody like a nomad?

Mmm...sort of. Who were the Pilgrims, the Thanksgiving Pilgrims? They were people from England who came to America. Yes. And they came here on a schoolbus, right? Ha! They came on a boat, the Mayflower!

Yes, a ship. And I suppose being like nomads they just wandered around the ocean until they bumped into Massachusetts? No, they were coming here on purpose. I see...and when they arrived, did they grab tents and horses and take off for California? No, they settled down where the Mayflower dropped them off. Oh. They weren't wandering then, they had a destination. So pilgrims aren't nomads; pilgrims don't wander.

Where'd the Pilgrims start? England. And they stopped in...? America. Yes, in Massachusetts. Did they vacation there & then go back home to England? No, America was their new home. And if you lived in one place but journey to another place to live you aren't wandering. Do you know what we call people who journey from an old home to a new one? No guesses? Who are these monkeys that invented Thanksgiving? Acrobats?

Yes, Pilgrims, they called themselves Pilgrims because they did not wander; they knew where they were headed, and when they got there, their journey was over.

Hey, at Mass, have you ever heard the priest say, "Strengthen in faith and love your pilgrim Church on Earth?" Ehh...yes? Of course you heard it, but if you were daydreaming you wouldn't remember.

Look at this beat-up book, what is this old thing? The Bible! (I hold it so that Genesis is loose in front and Revelations is loose in the back.) What's this book in front, the Adam & Eve one? Genesis! And this one at the end...the one where everything is finally revealed...? Revelations! A bit in the front, a bit in the back, and a thousand or so pages in between.

Speaking of Adam & Eve, in the beginning, in Eden, were they separated from God? No! Why not? They hadn't eaten the apple yet! That's right, they hadn't sinned. And Adam & Eve were unseparated too, in a way: Adam said Eve was 'bone of my bone; flesh of my flesh." Remind me again, was that his toe-bone? No, his rib! Which is near his...elbow? No, his heart! Because...? He loves her! Yes, with his whole heart.

Speaking of separation, what do we call it when souls separate from bodies? Death! And could souls separate from bodies in Eden? No! And why not? If you don't sin, you don't die. Right. In Eden, they sort of just hung out with God all the time....must've been great: pizza buffets and everything. So after they sinned, how were they separated from God? The angel threw them out of Eden! And not only were they separated from God, they would eventually have their souls separate from their bodies, and die. Man was created to be with God, but since we left Eden, we've been separated.

So back to the pilgrim Church...if it's a pilgrim Church, what is it it wandering? No. Right, it's not a nomad Church. So...if it's not wandering, what is the pilgrim church doing? It's going somewhere.

That's right...where's it going? No guesses? That's OK, it's a hard question. Look at the back of the Bible again: this last book....called....? Revelations. This last book tells us, reveals to us, where the Church is going. And are we part of the church? Yes. Right, all the faithful make up the Church. So if we're part of the pilgrim church that means we are....? Pilgrims. Who are on a...? A trip! Yes, on a journey. Just like the American Pilgrims, we and the Church will end our journey at our destination. Let's see what Revelations says about that destination.

The first thing we'll look at is the Second Coming. Who is coming the second time? Jesus. And when was the First Coming? What? When did he come the first time? Oh...Christmas? Yeah, at Christmas. And at the Ascension when Jesus rose up on a cloud, angels told the apostles, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." So, how is Jesus going to come the second time? C'mon, the same way he went up. He rose up to the sky on clouds, so how will he return? Umm, down from the sky on clouds? Yes. Or something equally impressive; I expect everyone will know what's going on.

The Second Coming will signal that it's time for the Final Judgment, when everyone in Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory gets their bodies back. People who are alive haven't lost theirs. Revelations says "the dead [are] judged according to what they had done" and "each person [is] judged according to what he had done." St. John, who wrote Revelations, says it twice....just to remind you, it matters what you do, not just what you believe. So everyone goes to Heaven or Hell with their body & soul no longer separated. Adam & Eve's sin caused body & soul to separate, but in the end they become one again. And those who go to Heaven are no longer separated from God by Adam and Eve's sin, but are reunited with Him. Ever since Genesis, people have suffered separation, but in Revelations, everything good is reunited: Creation, Man, and God are all together again, just as they were in Eden.

Because everyone has their bodies back, we'll have to live somewhere physical. But not on Earth as it is now, with hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes. Could weather kill people in Eden? No, there wasn't any bad weather. Why not? Because there was no sin. Yes. Sin doesn't just mess up the spiritual world, but the physical world, too.

And here's what St. John says about this physical place: "I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.... " So we'll have a new home. And not only will Earth be new, but heaven as well, and they will also be one.

Then John says, "I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband." And I know exactly what John means. I remember how beautiful my wife was when she was walking down the aisle to marry me. Why, let's look at that picture again (I show a wedding photo they've seen before). She looks like she came down out of heaven just like the New Jerusalem. So where are we going to live? The New Jerusalem!

Then John says, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God." Does anyone remember another time when God told someone "you will be my people, and I will be your God"? OK, this is from Exodus: "I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. I will bring you out of Egypt and to the land I promised to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob." Who was God talking to? Moses? Yes, Moses. Didn't y'all see Prince of Egypt? But when God says it in Revelations, it means more. God brings us out of sin, and brings us to a perfect land, a perfect home.

Here's a question: Jews worshiped God in a temple in Jerusalem; where do Christians worship? In a church! Yes. Now, about the New Jerusalem John says, "I did not see a temple in the city." Why wouldn't there be temple or a church there? .....That's a hard question, tell me this: in Eden did Adam & Eve go to church to visit with God? No. Why not? They were with God already. Yes. But after they got thrown out of Eden, we had the Temple and the Church as ways to stay connected to God, even though sin had separated us from Him. In the New Jerusalem will we be separated from God? No. So why won't there be a temple or a church? Because we'll be with God again. Yes, not another place a long time ago which would be....? Eden! Yes.

So back to pilgrims. When the pilgrims were sitting at home in England were they pilgrims yet? No. Right, they were at home, not going anywhere. When they got on the Mayflower were they pilgrims? Yes! Once they settled down in their new home, were they still pilgrims? Not really. OK. Were Adam & Eve at home with God in Eden? Yes. But then they had to leave. We know from St. John that they and their children, that's us, will someday have a new home with God, the New Jerusalem. Right now we're on a long journey from our old home, Eden, to where? Our new home! Which is called...? The New Jerusalem! And when people are on a journey from an old home to a new home they are called...? Pilgrims! Yes, and that makes us...? Pilgrims, too.

Did the Pilgrims swim to America? Ha! No, we already said they took the Mayflower. Oh yeah....I forgot. Swimming is cheaper- why did they take a ship? 'cause it's safe. Yes, to have a safe ocean journey you need a sturdy ship. There's an Italian saint named John Bosco who once dreamed about a ship on a dangerous ocean. The ship was called the Bark of Peter. It wasn't a dog or a tree: the Italian (and Spanish) word for 'boat' is 'barco.' The captain was the Pope. What did the ship represent in the dream? A hard question? OK, What's the Pope in charge of in the real world? The Church. And in the dream he's in charge of the ship, so what's the ship? The Church? Yes...the Church is our Mayflower. It carries us safely from our old home to our new one. Is it a wandering Church, a nomad Church? No, a pilgrim Church. Yes, just like we hear at Mass.

So, look again at the Bible. One book in the front, about the old home before the journey became necessary, and one in the back about the new home, and all the middle books are about the pilgrims' progress along the way. A pilgrim's journey is called a pilgrimage; we are on a pilgrimage. We know where we're going, and when we arrive, our journey will be over.

When the pilgrims arrive in the New Jerusalem, they become united with God. Like in Eden, there won't be a Church or Temple...once the pilgrims arrived in America, they didn't need the Mayflower anymore, either. St. John explains why there's no temple in New Jerusalem. He says, "the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple."

Revelations is the end of the Bible, and it marks the end of our pilgrimage. All the things that were messed up and separated by sin are healed and made whole: Man's body and soul are one; God and man are united; even Heaven and Earth are joined forever. John says, "there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." And the great image of this unity is the wedding feast of....? The Lamb! Who is...? Jesus! And who does he marry? The Church! Yes, who St. John said was as beautiful as ....? as....? My wife when we got married! Do I need to show that picture again?

And the 6th grade boys say: NOOoooo!