Immersed in Christ: August 26, 2020
WEDNESDAY of the TWENTY-FIRST WEEK in Ordinary Time
Happy are those who fear the Lord.
(Responsorial: Psalm 128)
2Thessalonians 3:6-18 may shock us:
Shun any believer living in idleness and not according to the tradition received from us.
This probably meant members who had stopped working for a living, because they believed Christ’s return to be imminent, and were a problem in the community. But because of the distasteful history of “shunning” in Christianity and other religions, this shocks us.
The closest we come to “shunning” is the unofficial (therefore dishonest and cowardly) “excommunication” of those to whom we deny Communion for not being in “good standing” by norms of Church discipline, even though it would be rash presumption to judge them guilty of “mortal sin.” But we treat them as if they were. This is two-faced.
Parents try to keep their teenagers away from “bad companions” who drink and use drugs. But we don’t “shun” the fraternity-sorority crowd who, according to one “graduate” from that milieu, “exist to form people to the conformism necessary for success in the corporate world.” True or false, the charge should make us question peer groups whose socially acceptable customs are contrary to the all-embracing love shown by Jesus.
We should also weigh the authors and speakers we do and do not “shun.” American bishops have banned fellow-bishop Geoffrey Robinson, former head of Australia’s sex-abuse committee, from speaking on church property, because his book Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church, (Liturgical Press, 2008) raises questions they don’t want raised. On the other hand, Father John Corapi, who advertised himself as “faithful to the magisterium,” was a favorite on Eternal Word Television and welcomed in conservative parishes all over the country until his religious order’s investigative team declared him “unfit for ministry,” having discovered that he “repeatedly abused alcohol and drugs,” sex, and owned over $1 million in real estate and luxury vehicles. 1
Those who proclaim most loudly their loyalty to the “magisterium” are most likely the ones least faithful to it.
In Matthew 23:27-32 Jesus warns us against judging by externals. But externals are all we can judge by, since we cannot see into anyone’s heart. So we must choose our externals. Law observance and participation in undemanding but comforting devotions are good; as are appointments to parish councils and ministries. But these were also the benchmarks of the “chief priests, elders, scribes and Pharisees” who hated what Jesus preached and plotted his death. Look for externals that are signs of the action of the Spirit.
Initiative: Live by the Spirit. Seek out others who do.
1 SOLT News, Official News Blog for the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, July 5 2011. Reflect on St. Paul’s balanced but passionately free stance toward the magisterium In Galatians 1:6 to 2:21.