Friday of the Second Week of Easter


For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God."



Periodically someone tells me the Church should change this or that policy because the majority of people don't like it. It's not successful and we're losing customers. In some cases their concern is genuine; they are lifelong members and suffer as they see church attendance drop. In other cases they're eager to offer advice just to show how successful businesses operate.
I might agree with their suggestions but the argument from success doesn't carry much weight in our inspired tradition. We're not operating in a Darwinian world of struggle and survival. Words like success and failure make little sense in the light of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection.
In today's first reading, we heard Gamaliel urge his colleagues to let the Lord deal with the nascent Christian movement. Their profession of an executed criminal as Savior and Messiah would surely fail. What reasonable person believes such nonsense? They might as well believe that Elvis Presley or Haile Selassie is a god. Failing to heed Gamaliel's advice, the Sanhedrin settled on a compromise:

After recalling the Apostles, they had them flogged, ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them.
That gesture, of course, only aroused the disciples to more joyous activity as they believed:
...they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.
Obviously, we're not operating with same model that governments, militaries, business and religions use. We're modelling Christ.
Many Christian churches and congregations in the United States are enjoying great success. The "largest Catholic Church" in Louisville is said to be Southeast Christian Church, a megachurch with a simulcast congregation in Clarksville, Indiana. Catholics who don't think they're properly fed by their own parishes commute to auditoriums where they can consume the sugar-laced pablum they crave. Church is good preaching and dynamic singing, not the hard labor of agreeing with disagreeable people. Nothing succeeds like success.
Today, more than ever, we must study the example of Jesus. He does not deal in success, power or self-righteousness. He does not condone sin. Telling people what they want to hear is not a pastoral response; it is neither helpful nor kind.
Recently, in my conversation with Veterans in recovery from alcoholism and drug abuse, I reminded the group that we're dealing with reality, not myths. When I asked them what "freedom" means, several cited the pioneers and cowboys who moved out beyond the reach of federal, state and county governments. 

"But," I said, "the cowboys and pioneers relied on the Army to remove the Indians from the territory. They depended upon the railroads to take their furs, beef, mutton and grain to market; and to return with essential tools, literature and clothing. They used pistols to shoot varmints, not each other. Let's speak of truth, not Hollywood movies, when we speak of freedom."
And then we talked about the saying, "Freedom is not free," and asked, "What price are you willing to pay for a job, financial security, and intimate companionship?"
The Catholic knows that our freedom was bought at the cost of Jesus' body and blood. When we want to know the truth, we ask for the courage to receive it and the willingness to pay the price.

2 comments:

  1. Fr. Ken, thank you for sharing your wisdom! I am enjoying reading your blog reflections!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Gayle. This Easter Season has been rich for me.

    ReplyDelete

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.