Coming to light

Question: We read in the Scriptures that what is hidden in the darkness will be brought to the light. Does that exclude confessed sins?

Armel Audet, via email

Answer: The text to which you refer is not likely a reference to sin, but refers, instead, to the proclamation of the Gospel. Jesus says, “Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops” (Mt 10:26-27). Mark and Luke report the saying of Jesus in a similar context. Thus Jesus is telling the apostles that what he has taught them privately will one day be proclaimed to the whole world.

In Luke, Jesus tells them, “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light” (Lk 8:16). Thus Jesus teaches them that he is kindling the light of truth in them, not to keep it hidden, but so that, when their formation is complete, they will reveal it to the world.

Many, hearing the verse you cite out of context, conclude as you do. Hearing of things “told in the dark,” “done in secret” or “whispered” conjures thoughts of sin. But the verse, read in context, is a reference to the more intimate and thorough formation the apostles received from Jesus. Though Jesus spoke to the crowds, it was often in parables and general ways. But in more private settings Jesus taught his apostles, often explaining his parables. For example, in Matthew’s Gospel we read: “Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field’” (Mt 13:36). And there are frequent references in the Gospels to this going aside for private instruction. But clearly Jesus was not just running a private club. He was preparing and forming the apostles for their mission to the ends of the earth.

As for sins being disclosed in complete detail, there are different opinions. It seems unlikely that every detail of everyone’s life will be made known. The Last Judgment is of a general nature, involving not just people, but nations, philosophies and so forth. Exacting details are more likely in one’s personal judgment before Christ.

Offertory chaos

Question: The offertory at Sunday Masses is a very distracting moment. Collections are being taken, ushers moving about, singing is going on, etc. But focus should be on the offertory prayers. Can you comment on this?

Phyllis Eckert, via email

Answer: The norms of the Church foresee that the offertory is a time of transition where gifts are collected and prepared. The taking of a collection, the procession with and preparation of the bread and wine along with the singing of an offertory chant or song are ancient practices. In more modern times, where money is used as a way of making an offering, it is suitable to collect the money at this time and bring it forth as a sign of our sacrificial offerings.

It is clear that you prefer a less distracted time to focus on the actions of the priest. But liturgical norms permit that these other things take place that are also important and legitimate. The priest, meanwhile, is preparing the offering and presenting it on our behalf. At the “Pray Brethren” he refocuses us and asked our assent in the offerings that have been made and prepared.

Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian in Washington, D.C., and writes for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., blog at blog.adw.org. Send questions to msgrpope@osv.com.