Saturday, June 29, 2013

No excuses please!

Well if I am to follow the signs of the times in light of our faith I could become very angry this week for a variety of reasons. I could be angry that the supreme court has decided to change some key point in the voting rights act that has been upheld for years as a remedy for over a century of legalized slavery in this country and the effects of segregation;  or I could be angry that it has seemingly broadened the age-old definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. This due to its decision that federal benefits cannot be withheld from one group of people who have legally married in certain states; something the courts said is equal protection under the law as interpreted in our constitution; or that immigration reform may be held up by one group of people who seem to fear the demographic change coming, or angry that we cannot change or stop the carnage in Syria….all of this can make one’s heads spin and heart- ache.  We can make all sorts of excuses for these outcomes or we can engage them and  strive to live  the kingdom as a witness to our faith. As in the times of Christ he calls us to keep following him without excuses.  The kingdom won’t wait.

None of these challenges are really that new as we have always been called to be witnesses of Christ in the times we live.  Let’s take a trip into history.  From the beginning of human history there have been wars and conflicts.  Yes salvation history has taught us a better way.  Peace is always the best option.  The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war…However prior, during and after the time of Christ wars have not ended. But we have a mandate to promote peace!  And when it takes root, people and societies have opportunities to thrive, people can prosper as the more we are at peace, the more commerce and quality of life we can experience. . So we have a lot of work to do. From the beginning marriage as we have understood it has always been under attack.  Just read about King David; and for multiple spouses remember, Abraham, Jacob, Esau, Gideon, Saul, David, Solomon,….  This just helped us to define what a best case scenario and theological purpose of marriage would be.  Stability, unitive and procreative, and the ideal environment, when lived correctly, to rear and nourish children.  And we don’t beat up on people who miss the mark. Today, perhaps this week’s recent ruling will only help us to work on marriage a little harder. The same temptations are there, perhaps a better understanding of what Catholic Marriage entails is in order. And if we really have the interest of children in mind, lets adopt more so there is a rare need or excuse for abortion.  This too will take some work. No more excuses. 

From the earliest times, racial and cultural discriminations have existed…. Slavery existed in Old and New Testament times.  The dominate culture always enslaved the minority.  The conqueror ruled.  It did in the manifest destiny vision of those who forcibly removed and killed thousands of native peoples in this land, and slavery and civil rights still not to distant a memory.   But again in following Jesus reminder through St. Paul that there is not longer Jew nor Greek, slave or free, woman or man to divide us, we have made some progress.  But again, only when we decide to follow Jesus and stop making excuses we may still recognize that there is still racial inequality.

There is no point in crushing others for the choices they make. That is sometimes the biggest excuse, blame others.  Conflicts can help us to clarify our goals. We will always be a part of the counter-culture as we always have been.  And we will always have conflicts; just as we will always have the poor with us.  But it calls us to keep peddling and not coast for too long. More importantly, we cannot even begin to change our world if we will not change ourselves.  But ignoring Christ’s way of charity, love, sacrifice and perseverance in our own vocations is to make excuses.  Following Him is the only way. How will the Eucharist change us today?  Remember, no excuses.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

What are you wearing today?

Kind of quiet these days in Bozeman since the University is on summer break.  But summer also brings new opportunities to grow in our faith. This weekend Jesus reminds his followers that they each must embrace the cross if they are to follow him.  The same is true for us... After all, we have been "Clothed In Christ"! As much as we like to say it is not the clothes that make a person, we do at times tend to judge on appearance.  But in one way it can also remind us that as styles and tastes change, we are to be engaged to the world and not insulated or fearful of it.

In his ordination homily on Friday, Bishop Thomas challenged not only the newly ordained, but all of us gathered to recall the struggles at the announcement of the Second Vatican Council.  Not as well known is the small but vocal group of Cardinals who tried to railroad the call to not only a renewed understanding of the church, but a willingness to live the gospel in light of the times we live. This was truly something new, but also something very old.  It is as old as the Gospel we hear today.  A lived Christian faith cannot be isolated in the safety of a church, community, or personal piety.  While all are great places to express the faith, without it being lived in and among the entire world, hence the cross, it is empty and without use. In the light of today’s gospel, would like to share his thoughts to these newly ordained and to us all.

Strive for holiness.  Develop the taste and longing for the Lord.  “My Soul is Thirsting” is the psalm today. Prayer begins with a desire to commune with the divine. And there are numerous ways in which to-do this. Hopefully we all have a prayer life. Yes some of us can say at times “I am too busy”, but at what cost.  Our sense or appetite for God diminishes and we find ourselves lost to being fed by only the temporal world. Working on our own holiness through prayer entails the cross.

Recognize and affirm our unity in diversity. The detractors at Vatican II wanted things to stay the way they were.  Well, that’s easy.  Not growth, nor the pain that comes from growth.  However we now cross cultures in marriage and family, races are blending, but a common thread binds all.  A desire for relationships, friends, a good life and the opportunity to contribute and utilize one’s potential with one eye fixed on the life to come.  When pointed toward a common good, we have unity in diversity.  This is lived in our art, foods, and especially in our worship. Working to accept the diversity of humanity with humility entails the cross.

Proclaim the gospel with conviction; sometimes we like to re-write the gospel for our own comfort. Or we chose to carefully negotiate our way through like one navigates a raft through rapids. The gospel has rocks and rapids, deserts with snakes and scorpions, ice and snow, wind and chill, lightning and clouds that may challenge us. Yet if we stick to the Lord’s message and proclaim it through our own lives, it will entail the cross.

Be centered on the Eucharist.  As the Eucharist and the Eucharistic liturgy is the source and summit of our Christian identity as proclaimed at Vatican II, to approach the sacred mysteries as community is essential.  The Eucharist breaks down barriers of class, race, nationality or anything else we erect to protect and divide us.   Given to the many for the forgiveness of sins. The Eucharist  encourages us to seek God’s mercy, and as Bishop challenged those newly ordained we too are challenged to seek God’s forgiveness and mercy in the sacrament of reconciliation.  Admitting our own wrongs based on the teaching of the gospel and pouring out our own bodies and blood for others entails the cross. We witness a community centered in the Eucharist by our stewardship. The many who sacrifice time to serve meals to hundreds of students and adults weekly during the academic year,  each parent who strives to sacrifice for their own children. Liturgical ministers who serve out of love of the mass.  Sacrificial tithing to the church and her endeavors.  All entail the cross and the cross is our hope.

Just saying “Christ is the Messiah” can be risky….We see this in the persecution of our Christian sisters and brothers in some Muslim countries. But saying Christ is the Messiah, the savior, by our own words and actions in offering salvation towards others can and will entail the cross.  Perhaps some words of comfort.  We have already bee configured to Christ in Baptism and as Paul says, you have “clothed yourselves with Christ”   Since much of our sin comes from the way others appear to us, we might be cautious in not judging on appearance as we have all been clothed with Christ.