Thursday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 338

And he asked them, 
"But who do you say that I am?"
Peter said to him in reply,
"You are the Christ."

When I took a karate class some years ago they gave me a white belt to hold my judogi together, but I worked alongside black belts. They never scoffed at my clumsiness; they were entirely focused on their own technique. Karate is essentially a spiritual exercise; it requires continual attention to the basics of posture and balance.
Faith also demands that we continually answer Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” It is not enough to say, “I came to the Lord forty years ago.” 

A lot can happen in forty years. What often happens is disappointment with the Church. Christians are delighted to know the Lord Jesus but often meet confusion, frustration and disenchantment upon meeting their fellow worshipers in the congregation. As they contribute significant time, talent and treasure to the church they want to know their presence makes a difference.  When the initial enthusiasm wears off many decide they can love Jesus just as easily in the confines of their own home. Their Lone Ranger philosophy of individualism reassures them this is the way to go.
Had they read the New Testament more closely they might not have pulled out so quickly:
Beloved, I am writing no new commandment to you but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. And yet I do write a new commandment to you, which holds true in him and among you for the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him to cause a fall. Whoever hates his brother is in darkness; he walks in darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
And, yes, shunning the church because you don’t like someone is the same thing as hate. That’s a strong word and we don’t like to use it often but using another word does not  erase its devastating effects. Dropping out of the church is the same as denying Jesus. If the Body of Christ is only people who like each other it will have all the corporeality of a cloud. We are those who disagree, quarrel, dislike, reconcile and atone for our divisiveness.

I have a simple formula for this: “You cannot love Jesus unless you love his Church. You cannot love his Church unless you really love Jesus.”  Church membership is the acid test of faith; it exposes the shallowness of our faith, a truth we would politely avoid. If your faith in Jesus is lukewarm your tolerance for other Christians will be tepid at best.

But the Church of Reconciled Sinners, surviving the crucible, draws us more deeply in love with the One who has saved us and more deeply in gratitude for these wonderful people.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.