Thursday, 19 April 2012

April 19th Homily

Where is the spirit of God in our Church today?  It’s rather easy to see it thriving in the works of charity, in the apostolates we do, even in the people meet, and how we are able to engage with them, not out in a spirit of jealousy or competition, but one of love and respect, one that recognizes the dignity of the people we meet. But even in our beloved universal Church, we all too often get embroiled into respective camps, trying to defend our understanding of what the Church is, how God works through our vision of the great apostolic mission.
   I saw some examples of this phenomenon while reading the New Catholic Reporter this morning as I was trying to catch up on news about a conflict between the Vatican  and women religious in the US, more specifically, a Catholic Social Justice lobby founded by American nuns called NETWORK. Despite all the noble work this group have done in the past 40 years, including taking their fights to Capitol Hill, and Being Christ to the poor on the great stage of American politics, NETWORK has come under scrutiny  and criticism for various reasons in recent years. The main criticism they've received is for their support of the Obama  health plan, and allegedly , for publicly supporting abortion. ( I say allegedly because it's unclear that they have. They've been silent on the issue, but have never spoken in favour it.  I believe the main issue is more Gay marriage and women's ordination)   


So, as is the norm on the internet (and one may argue, in the human experience), once the news about this crisis broke out, the few dozens of individuals who dedicate their days to publishing their responses and complaints on the NCR websites, went nuts: Lines were drawn; gloves came off; Criticism continues to rage on both sides: Some rushing to the defence of the nuns, others to the defence of the Vatican Hierarchy. Not very much is achieved, and the great animosity that exists within our Church is only nourished even more. And yet, both sides are convinced that they are doing what God has called upon them to do, or worse, they believe they are doing exactly what Jesus would do. Both sides claim to have right on their side. I think such a debate would have preoccupied me for days in the past, and perhaps have even chipped away at my faith a little. It doesn't anymore, because I understand that this is how we function as humans....and this has nothing to do with God, for one simple reason: In this angry debate, the individuals are not diminished in order to make way for the Grace of God to work in them. Their issues and agendas, becomes God's issues and agendas. This is problematic. Consequently, I still need to hear them out and understand where they're coming from, but I do not need to accept that God's will is in their angry divisive words. For if they were filled with the spirit, they would act like the disciples in the book of Acts, and would obey God,rather than obeying men and women. They would allow the spirit to guide them in efforts to be Christ to the poor by helping deliver them from their afflictions, and would focus on healing the brokenness of our world not with a righteous anger, but a deep and profound forgiving love. It's that very same love that allowed John the Baptist to humble himself before the Messiah. To recognize that the work John had committed his entire life to, was merely earthly work that would meet its divine completion in the labours of another. To understand that while the presence of the Spirit may be limited in his own body, that there was no limit to that divine presence in Jesus. It seems that John is still trying to pave the way for Christ in our own lives. He understands that we get preoccupied by earthly issues that divides our world and creates dissent even within our own beloved Church. However, he reminds us to leave all of that behind, less we get preoccupied by them, and fail to receive the testimony of Christ in our world....less we fall short of obeying the Divine Will, in order to fulfil our own human desires to serve God...these are noble, but they are imperfect, and when we commit our lives to these as opposed to God, we sometimes miss the mark.

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