Immersed in Christ: August 25, 2020
TUESDAY of the TWENTY-FIRST WEEK in Ordinary Time
The Lord comes to judge the earth.
(Responsorial: Psalm 96)
In 2Thessalonians 2:1-16, the apostles are saying “no” to destructive ministries that are being taken for granted in the Church today. The apostles warn the Thessalonians not to be “shook up” or alarmed by any “manifestation of the Spirit (“oracular utterance”), or rumor, or letter claiming to come from us.” 1
But there is not much outcry today against the spate of private revelations (“oracular utterances”) from unapproved visionaries predicting dire punishments from God against those who commit selected sins; or against those spreading “rumors” about the laxity of faith and morals due to the “permissiveness” and “false direction” taken by Vatican II; or against preachers “claiming” to be “faithful to the magisterium” when they don’t even know what the word really means. (Magisterium is a “deadly weapon” in the hands of those who don’t distinguish between the “ordinary” and “extraordinary” exercise of the teaching office in the Church or the limitations of its authority). The apostolic writers say, “Let no one seduce you, no matter how.”
We would specify, “Especially if they come to you as wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Not everyone dressed in clerical attire or wearing the ring of a bishop can be trusted, as all history, from the Borgia popes to our era’s crass protectors of child abusers attests. Jesus says, “You will know them by their fruits.” We should add, the same is true for lay ministers. It is not ordination that corrupts; it is faulty formation, Phariseeism, prestige and power.2
In Matthew 23:23-26 Jesus blasts those who “neglect the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity,” while concentrating on trivia. We can’t help thinking of the Roman Curia and bishops who, judging from the time and attention they give, are more concerned, about Eucharistic ministers “approaching the altar” for Communion before the (ordained) priests and deacons have received, than they are about the millions who no longer receive Communion at all because their “spiritual needs were not being met” in the Catholic church; in particular at Sunday Mass. The bishops have given massive support to the Vatican’s project to “latinize” the English translation of the Mass while the goals of their own potentially Church-transforming pastoral letter “Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us” (USCCB 1999) are hardly remembered. (Can you name them?) Is this a “gnat and camel” issue?
Initiative: Be concerned. Love the shepherds. But be concerned for the sheep.
1 Compare the old and new lectionary translations and the New Jerusalem Bible. 2 Matthew 7:15-16. 3 See Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter online, 4/18/11.