FEAR is the enemy — not the “secular” world.
One thing that no one can ever truthfully say about Pope Francis is that he is afraid of the new or the different! Beginning with the choice of his papal name, his decision to forego the papal apartments, and shopping for his diabetic-shoes himself at the local pharmacy — to washing the feet of Muslims and women — to nominating Cardinals from countries that NEVER had previously had a Cardinal — Pope Francis encourages those who desire a more “modern Church” and frustrates those who want to return to the “glory days” of the past.
Pope Francis wants to engage the world as it is — too many bishops want to DO BATTLE WITH — to fight — the “evil, secular world” in which we live.
Pope Francis wants to be with people “where they are” while too many bishops fear listening and only wish to speak — because they alone hold “Divine Wisdom” due to their episcopal rank.
The secular world is not the enemy — fear is the enemy.
When more than ever can we see how a fearful, timid group of MEN who hid behind locked doors were empowered to go out into the world — than Pentecost. Our celebration this weekend is a call to LIVE PENTECOST and not merely to remember it.
In an op-ed piece published on NCR‘s online edition [May 30, 2017], Tom Smith reflected on his “inability to get the institutional church out of his system”, while at the same time feeling frustrated with the church’s leadership —- which he says —- seems to focus on those who have an emerging, yet still immature spirituality. The Church, it seems — in my view — needs to help these poor souls rather than engaging people on an adult level.
Smith asserts that he and others are able to deal with ambiguity, mystery, “both-ands”, expandable morality, spontaneity, informed conscience, and to deal with personal, spiritual experiences.
While — too many Church leaders insist on dogmatic and doctrinal rigidity, “either-or” moral absolutes, frozen liturgical practices, and protecting the structure of the hierarchy.
In a sense, the Church is self-centered — when the Church of Pentecost was mission driven and other centered. Pentecost was and is — all about being new, different, energized.
Fear is the Church’s enemy — not the “secular” world.
It is indisputable that church attendance continues to drop. There is no argument that the decrease in the number of ordained leaders is a HUGE problem for the Church. Parishes are being closed or combined — priests are being asked to cover more physical territory. The laity believe that most international priests are “nice people”, but too hard to understand and that they get nothing out of mass.
To this leadership responds: people are not committed, they have lost a sense of worship — these “people” were never true Catholics anyway. Young men are growing up in a hedonistic society and it is hard to recruit in that world — people should not come to church to GET SOMETHING OUT OF IT — but to worship God and to give to God.
Jesus himself was “something” new —- something that had never happened before — the Son of God, born as a man — born by virgin birth. Jesus walked on water, calmed the storms, and multiplied loaves and fishes. Jesus talked to the Samaritan woman at the well and praised the good Samaritan. Jesus forgave sinners and called others to do the same — he scorned the religious leaders who sought places of honor and dressed in fancy robes. Jesus died — and Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus was about doing the new — being new. Otherwise, we might be some form of Judaism.
PENTECOST was about the old way of doing and being giving way to a new way — where people of different nations could hear the word spoken in their own native tongue. The WORD OF GOD —- relatable to people from where they came.
Too many bishops and too many young priests probably proclaim that they are restorantinists — set about restoring the Church to its previous glory.
BUT — the Spirit cannot be — will not be stifled. Men and women who listen to the Spirit, will keep the Church alive. Priests who listen to the Spirit “with them and within them” will keep HOPE alive. Bishops in tune with the Spirit will keep the flame of faith burning brightly.
- Not all change is good— and not all change is bad.
- Growth requires change —- no one, no thing that is growing looks the same as it did a year ago. If you are not changing, you are dead.
- Change does not mean giving in — change may well mean growing up.
- Change for the sake of change is not wise —- change for the sake of THE GOOD is wise. REMEMBER: there were no deacons until the Church realized there was an unmet need.
- Piety is not about looking holy —- it is about being holy, i.e. caring, loving, compassionate. The law itself does not save.
What change do I fear?
What might the spirit be asking me to change?
Am I hiding in fear or open to change?
Am I living faith-fully?
We have met the enemy —- and yikes, it is us!