Friday, April 26, 2013


Thanks for the comments on last week’s post. I hope that more folks will feel free to comment in the future!

During the past few days a couple of themes came together with tremendous energy for me.


In the course of studying one of this week’s mass readings from Acts, I noticed that Paul used the Greek verb hupsoo, “to lift up, raise up,” to describe how in the Exodus God had “raised up (hupsoo) his people during their sojourn in Egypt” and led them out of slavery. This got me thinking about the other uses of that rich Greek verb.

First of all, hupsoo is one of the most important Easter verbs in the gospels -- God “raised up” his Son from the tomb -- and in Acts it expresses Christ’s exaltation after the Ascension:
This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. Being therefore exalted (hupsoo) at the right hand of God,…  (Acts 2:32-33)
God exalted him (hupsoo) at his right hand as Leader and Savior, so that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. (Acts 5:31)

Secondly, besides being the perfect Easter verb, it’s also the verb Luke uses in his “theology of reversal” in which he shows how the Lord is always turning things upside down:
Mary sings in her Magnificat, “He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up (hupsoo) the lowly.” (Lk 1:52)
Jesus advises us how to act at a banquet: “But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt (hupsoo) themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Lk 14:9-11)  
And in the parable of the tax-collector and the Pharisee, Jesus says “The tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt (hupsoo) themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Lk 18:13-14)


In reflecting on Luke’s “law of reversal” I was immediately reminded of a meeting that I’d been at this week in which faculty members were planning an interdisciplinary project for next school year to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the re-opening of St. Benedict’s Prep. Having been involved in that rebirth I could see that this event was and is a perfect example of Luke’s “law of reversal,” and an even better example of resurrection and rebirth.

Further, I’ve also been engrossed in revising the text of a screenplay of a fictional film about the same event. Writing this screenplay has forced me to go back and relive the horrendous events of 1972 when our school came apart at the seams. None of us knew at the time that we were experiencing a “Good Friday” that would result in a most improbable “Easter Sunday” for our moribund school.


So in the past few days I have really been experiencing the effects of the Easter Mystery, appreciating what God has done in Christ both in giving humanity new life at Easter and in calling St. Benedict’s Prep out of the tomb to which I and my brothers had consigned it, thinking it would never rise again.

The liturgy during these days of the Easter season has us singing “Alleluia” all the time. In the past couple of days I’ve been singing it with a new and sharper focus and a lot of gratitude. 


  1. I was wondering, is this verb, hupsoo, “to lift up, raise up,” the same term which is referred to in Thessalonians and which some Christians refer to when talking about the rapture. Also, is this the term that is used when Jesus is lifted up in the clouds at the beginning of Acts?

    I personally do not believe in the literal idea that Jesus floated up in the clouds. It seems rather silly to me. Maybe I'm too much of a post-modernist. I do think the meaning of the term is more significant and true to me.

  2. Matteo, for what it's worth, the verb appears in Acts 2:33 in Peter's Pentecost speech when he speaks of the risen Lord being "exalted to God's right hand." It's not in Thessalonians. As for the literal interpretation of the Ascension, you can read my May 4, 2013 post.