Earlier this week I joined two members of our Charter School Board to be interviewed by a member of the State Legislature about our views on education in the State of Louisiana. One of the questions asked was, “What role can preachers play in improving the plight of education?”
I was the first to respond. I answered: Ministers can play a huge role. But they don’t. The legislator asked, “why not?” My answer — They are too busy building their churches instead of building the kingdom. In other words, they stay in the sanctuary rather than going into the street.
One of the Board Members pointed out that in the 60’s and 70’s, the CHURCH was on the front line in the civil rights struggle. Ministers of all races and religions walked arm in arm in the streets. Priests in collars and nuns in habits joined Protestant ministers and Rabbis standing up for those in need.
A blog in the National Catholic Reporter this week by Pat Perrelieo bemoaned the lack of a visible Catholic presence the anti-violence rallies following the violent rally in Charlottesville, VA. He in a sense said that priests were hanging out in sacristies instead of walking in the streets.
We have REAL issues affecting the lives of people — health care, immigration, and the rise of racism. To make people jump through hoops to have a child baptized or a family member buried is of no matter to the majority of people today.
In the Gospel [Mt. 16:13-20], many clergy will find reason to preach on the “giving of the keys” and a mandate to Peter as the first “pope”. They will emphasize the teaching authority of the magisterium.
In Is. 22-19-23, though, is the reminder that with privileges, or with a mandate, comes responsibility. If a person, a group, or a Church does not live up to the responsibility given, then the mantle will be taken away —- given up —-and given to another.
I believe God has passed on to men and women a teaching and leadership role. However, I have witnessed with my own eyes those who “thought they were in charge” teaching and preaching with hollow words to smaller and smaller followings. Such is the case in all of life.
How often do we see a starting quarterback lose his role as a starter, because he does not perform up to expectations?
How many times does a parent remind a child that driving is a privilege and that if it is determined that the privilege is misused, then the keys of the car [the cell phone, the computer, etc.] will be taken away?
It is wonderful to see that Cardinal Daniel Dinardo [Archbishop of Houston and President of the National Conference of Bishops] has appointed an ad hoc Committee to work against racism — and to work for equality.
How great is was to hear the words of Cardinal Blasé Cupich of Chicago directing the priests of the Archdiocese to preach against racism last weekend —- with a specific charge that “Racism is a sin. White Supremacy is a sin. Neo-Nazism is a sin.”
And now —as the African proverb states, “Those who pray need to move their feet.”
Begin locally — and move out —
- Parents — if you do not parent a child — someone else will: television, video games, a peer group, a gang leader — parents have been given charge over children — those who abuse the privilege will lose it.
2. Pastors — if you do not feed the flock, some other pastor will — if you do not create a welcoming community and life-giving worship — someone else will. Who attends public-school board meetings? Who attends city council meetings?
Don’t get upset when some young, hot-shot preacher starts getting attention for his social activism. Seize the moment and lead.
3. Voters — let’s hold those we elect, accountable. If our leaders are not making the world a better place, let’s get someone who will.
4. Each of us has a share in God’s call to lock and unlock — to bind and loose — if we neglect our responsibility given in Baptism, the work will not get done —- and we will see “evil” prevail.
Most of us have literally lost [misplaced] our car keys at times. It is frustrating to try and remember where we set them down. It is much more serious to lose or misplace our duties that come with faith.