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Why is everything Veiled at my parish?

April 12, 2019

 

Did you notice this past Sunday that all the images at your parish church are veiled? Why is this?

 

The Gospel this past Sunday was an early portion of John chapter 8. In this story Jesus has come, early on his ministry, to teach at the Temple in Jerusalem. This as you might recall is the center of all Jewish religion, politics, economics, and culture. It is the reason for Israel's existence - to worship YHWH (I AM). The scene was about an adulteress and the Pharisees asking whether or not she should be stoned. As we heard in the Gospel they actually didn't care about her, they just wanted to catch Jesus in contradiction to the Law (Torah) so that they could stone him.

 

The Gospel from the Extraordinary Form / Tridentine Form Mass (1570-1962, but also still today via Summorum Pontificum) had a section of The Gospel that occurred later on in John 8. After the adulteress scene Jesus says, "I AM the light of the world...I AM going...I AM not of this world...before Abraham was I AM." Basically, he declares himself to be YHWH, The Lord, repeatedly. This is all the permission the Pharisees need to try to stone him. This is in fact exactly what they wanted to do by bringing the adulteress to him earlier. 

 

As a result, they try to stone him, and Jesus hides from them. He leaves Jerusalem after this, preaches to Galilee, known to be a bunch of Gentiles and backwood Jews. He doesn't return to The Temple until he's ready for his death, which we commemorate next week at Holy Week.

 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”So they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.

-St. John's Gospel, 8:58-59


It is for this reason that The Church on Passion Sunday (Lent 5) veils all images, even the principle crucifix over the altar. We are showing he is in hiding from those who reject him, hate him, deny his is The Lord, or try to force him to separate Justice and Mercy. This is a preparation for Holy Week, when the Sanhedrin will ultimately have their way, try him for supposed heresy and blasphemy, and turned him over to the Romans to be crucified.

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