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Sunday, September 22, 2013

The 99 lost sheep

Phil Lawler writes the above as the key to understanding Pope Francis who stirs things up even for orthodox Catholics. His interview with America magazine seems to suggest a leniency on certain doctrines, but, perhaps like Mr. Lawler, I see a stronger emphasis on mercy, but in no way is it giving up on justice. I think it's a chronological order that makes more sense when the lost 99 sheep are no longer engaged in dialogue. Mercy before justice sounds right: justice built on the foundation of mercy and grace.

Personally, God's hand has been on me over the last few years, starting with MenAlive, which puts things in that order. I had to know what I'd been told time and again (but wasn't listening), that God loves me and grants me his mercy. This gets my attention so I'm able to listen. It gives me hope so I can rouse up, and gives me confidence so I may act. It also fills me with knowledge of his grace, so I can gratefully give back and pass it on.

This sounds like what the Holy Spirit is stirring up through Pope Francis. Sounds like Good News to me!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Mind your own business .. Was that how Jesus put it?

Political correctness seems to suggests that we are not to correct one another for the sake of individual freedom, perhaps. It is even suggested that the real Jesus teaches us to live and let live.

This text might be suggested: "Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the plank in your own? How can you say to your brother, “Brother, let me take out the splinter that is in your eye,” when you cannot see the plank in your own? Hypocrite! Take the plank out of your own eye."

But that cuts out the next part of that sentence. Here it is in its entirety:

Take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take out the splinter that is in your brother’s eye.’

So according to the whole sentence, indeed the according to the whole parable, it's not a prohibition to correct someone when necessary to do so. Rather, it is a practical preparation for doing so, in order to be more effective at it. That's actually important, because true charity means willing the other's good, rather than abandoning him/her to whatever he/she prefers, and its periils. It's never pleasant, especially on the receiving end, but if I'm about to walk off a cliff, I'd rather be warned about it.

(Ref: Luke 6:39-42, from Universalis.com)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Baptism and Circumcision

From Colossians 2:6-15 (first reading Tuesday this week):

You must live your whole life according to the Christ you have received – Jesus the Lord; you must be rooted in him and built on him and held firm by the faith you have been taught, and full of thanksgiving. Make sure that no one traps you and deprives you of your freedom by some second-hand, empty, rational philosophy based on the principles of this world instead of on Christ. In his body lives the fullness of divinity, and in him you too find your own fulfilment, in the one who is the head of every Sovereignty and Power. In him you have been circumcised, with a circumcision not performed by human hand, but by the complete stripping of your body of flesh. This is circumcision according to Christ. You have been buried with him, when you were baptised; and by baptism, too, you have been raised up with him through your belief in the power of God who raised him from the dead. You were dead, because you were sinners and had not been circumcised: he has brought you to life with him, he has forgiven us all our sins.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Not peace but a sword

In World Youth Day recently, Pope Francis asserted that we are called to shake things up, to be messy in evangelizing the world. How messy can we be if we are called to be meek and humble? How so was Christ? In today's Gospel from Luke (4:16-30), he starts out with "gracious words" --

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

Nice start, but then he shakes things up --

‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’

I don't like confrontations. It's messy, but seems to me that I have no choice if I am to follow my Master. Last week he was hurling "brood of vipers!" and "hypocrites!" at certain authorities in his time. I would hate to be on the receiving end of that, but what if there is need to correct my brother or sister or child if they were risking something perilous to their lives? God help me say what needs saying with true love, which must sometimes be tough love (for their sake!), But I truly would prefer if I can speak with gentleness in my voice, even if the words must be unyielding and inevitaby shaking things up.

Most of all, may those who love me speak so to me when needed, which is very often, and may I have the honesty and humility to take their words to heart, and so amend my life as it depends on my willingness to be corrected!

This is apt from The Imitation of Christ (from today's Office of Readings), spoken from the Lord's perspective:

I visit my elect in a double fashion: that is, with temptation and with consolation. And I read to them two lessons each day: one to rebuke them for their faults; the other to exhort them to increase their virtue.