Did anybody read the Hunchback of Notre Dame? See the cartoon? Does anybody remember what his name was? Hint: It wasn’t “Hey, hunchback.” Insert Jeopardy theme….
Ok, we are back. What was your answer? The right answer is Quasimodo. Which is a strange name. Anybody care to hazard a guess where that came from?
Every Sunday of the church year has what are called propers. They include the introit which is the entrance hymn/chant, the prayer of the day, the appointed readings and a few other things. If you were doing a choir led mass, the propers are all the parts that the choir and minister would probably chant. The congregation itself would probably be relatively non-participatory, the high church version of the worship band. The Lutheran Reformation gave to the congregation the role of the choir. With angels, and archangels and all the host of heaven, we laud and magnify the name. But the important proper of the day for this pastor’s corner is the introit.
The same way that people used to sign letters “On the Feast Day of St. X” or something like that to date correspondence, the weeks were actually known by their introits. Specifically the first word of the introit, in Latin because that is what the church used and many propers even after the reformation would remain in Latin for a long time. If you have an old copy of The Lutheran Hymnal (TLH) published in 1941 lying around, you can see that those old names are still on the church calendar for many weeks – the weeks after Transfiguration, the weeks of Lent, the weeks of Easter. Easter 2 was known as Quasimodogeniti. Quasimodo the hunchback was born on this Sunday and given the name from the Introit.
When the propers went to a three year cycle many of those old names were broken. They had already been strained when everything went into the vernacular as long time ago. But the Introits are meant to carry a theme for the service and the week, which they do very well in the Sundays after Easter. Quasimodogeniti is Latin for “as newborn infants.” As newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow into salvation, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Easter 2 in the church year is a day of infancy on the faith. Thomas hasn’t seen, so he won’t believe, until he places his fingers in the holes in the hands. We start reading from the Epistle of First Peter which tells us that we have come into our inheritance in the resurrection. “He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” And as such infants, “long for the pure spiritual milk.”
What is that pure Spiritual Milk? The Introit’s answers are: “Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make know his deeds among the peoples, sing praises to him.” Thanksgiving, prayer, proclamation and adoration. What are the things that allow us to grow up into that full inheritance of the resurrection? Hearing the word proclaimed and believing it. Returning in proper thanks for all the Christ has done for us. Trusting in the Lord in prayer. “Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his presence continually.” Never forgetting the proper adoration due to God Almighty. “Glory in His Holy Name!” These are the things of pure spiritual milk that you might grow up to salvation.
And unlike our physical selves who outgrow milk, the Kingdom of God is a land flowing with milk and honey. Every Sunday one can return to that pure spiritual milk: the word, thanksgiving, prayer, and adoration. If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.