May the Peace of Christ Reign in our Hearts.
In the fullness of time, when the Son of God walked the face of the earth he shared the Gospel, the Good News with everyone he met.
When Jesus’ message was written on the hearts of those who followed Him it changed them just like it changes us.
No one, No one, who accepts the Gospel is ever the same...
After his ascension into heaven all that he said, and all that he did, was entrusted to this small band of followers or the twelve.
After Pentecost the disciples became the heralds and protectors of the Gospel, which was handed down from age to age.
To accomplish this the community of believers quickly formed a structure which developed into an institution whose only purpose was to protect and proclaim the revealed truth of God.
This institution we call the Church and it was founded by Christ on the rock of Peter who was its first leader.
Yes, throughout history our Church has been burdened by sin and distracted by the contemporary struggles.
We all know the challenges and sins which our Church bears right now and they are heart breakings.
We are not immue to the struggles of our time.
As the story goes in a fit of Rage Napolean screamed at Cardinal Consalvi I will destory your chuch…
The Cardinal calmly responded if the priests and bishops and popes haven’t been able to do it for 1800 years do you think you’ll be able to do it.
You see the Church which is both human and divine, broken and blessed, has been true to its mission. It has preserved the Gospel and proclaimed of the Good News all over the world
Soley Human institutions have come and gone but the Church has always survived...
Therefore the church, our church, with all it wounds still deserves our love and respect because it is also Christ’s Church. Broken and Holy at the same time
The first section of the Gospel reminds us Today.
The spirit is not limited to those formally commissioned by the Church
In the Gospel today we heard how the Apostles discovered others, people they didn’t know expelling demons in Jesus' name, they were not connected directly with the Apostles or his disciples
When they told Jesus they tried to stop the strangers because they did not know them. Jesus advised them not to so. "He who is not against us is for us" in other words leave them alone.
Throughout history there have been people who worked outside or on the fringe of the institutional church but were still instruments of God’s Spirit
The Desert Fathers left the community and fled to the desolation of the Desert to grow in holiness
St. Benedict the founder of Monasticism was suspect by some in the mainstream church as were...
St. Francis of Assisi until he won the heart of Pope Honorious
St. Teresa of Avila managed to frustrate so many in the church with her persistent call for reform
All of the above were on the fringe... some in the Church looked on them with suspicion.... as if they were strangers.
Many of them were persecuted and their ideas put to the test
In our own time there are tons of examples,
St. Maximilian Kolbe reformed our Conventual Franciscan Community but the friars in poland did not accept him and it was the friars in America who gave him the money for his first printing press and helped him begin his movement.
Mother Teresa left the comfort of her traditional convent to found a community to serve the poorest of the poor.
Pope John XXIII was supposed to be a caretaker Pope, or a do nothing Pope, he was elected because he was old he likes a lot of pasta and won’t last long. yet he called the Second Vatican Council.
And began a wonderful aggiornamento or reform of the Church.
So you see the first passage of the gospel speaks to all of us as members of the church.
It calls us to be open to the prompting of the spirit
It warns us not to dismiss those who seem to be living the gospel in a different way or calling us to do so
Even if we do not know, them they may still be instruments of the spirit and those who are not against us are for us...
The second part of the Gospel speaks to those who feel called to reform or challenge the Church.
Just as the institution must be cautious in dismissing them or stopping them
Those who feel called by the Spirit must be careful not to cause scandal or sin.
Their reforms, their charismatic teaching, can only be the result of prayer and a holy life lived...
If we took the last part of the Gospel literally we would all have major wounds. please don’t take it literally or cut anything off
Jesus simply used hyperbole to warns us that we must be diligent and radical in our desire to separate ourselves from all that keeps us from faithfully living the gospel.
Brothers and Sisters,
Let us pray for a cautious discerning spirit so that we may be faithful to the Gospel which Christ preached and open to the ever changing promptings of the Holy Spirit