A Change in Direction… 28May2017

To understand the change in direction between the Old Testament and the New we need two somewhat technical terms: centrifugal and centripetal. Don’t worry, they are not difficult to understand, but are important.

Centripetal is derived from the Latin: centrum (center) and petere (to seek). A centripetal force constantly seeks the center and it is what keeps our satellites in orbit. When they are launched, they are set on a trajectory leading them away from earth but with just enough force that does not allow them to break the force of gravity, a centripetal force. These two forces—one directed away from the earth and the other seeking the center of the earth—work with each other to keep the satellites in orbit. If either force were to change, the satellite would either shoot off into space or crash to the earth.

Centrifugal is the opposite and derives from centrum and fugere (to flee). We feel centrifugal force in a car whenever we turn too fast and everything in the back seat slides over.

By this time you’re wondering what all this has to do with today’s readings. (Some of you may have already figured it out.) In the Old Testament, the movements and directions of the Jewish people were centripetal—always circling around Jerusalem as the center of their faith.

Jesus changes that direction, today. Trace on a map  the movement He describes: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Notice the centrifugal movement from Jerusalem, around through Judea and Samaria, and continuing throughout the known world. In short, the Christian Faith is missionary and meant for everyone.

There are two other points evident in His words. The Greek word (the NT was written in Greek) for witness is marturos, from which we derive the English word, martyr.

Jesus’ command also tells them they must wait for the Holy Spirit, and so begins the first Novena—nine days of prayer anticipating the fulfillment of His promise.

Next week, “the rest of the story.”

Deacon Richard

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