Gospel Thoughts 13 May 2012

May 9, 2012 at 18:19 Leave a comment

In today’s Gospel Story (John 15:9-17) Jesus says, “If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love”. What does this mean? What commandments is Jesus talking about? The only commandments mentioned in the Gospels are “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment; and a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39); and, “This I command you: love one another” (John 15:17).

I received an email from a friend who is a wife, mother, and parish youth worker, and had been a Pastoral Coordinator. She has experienced, and continues to experience, the intransigence of the church structure/system and the pain it inflicts on the good folks who are trying to do what is right. She mentioned that when her children ask why this or that is going on in the Church, her response to them is, “Do you think Jesus really cares about all that?”. Their answer is, “no”. Both in raising her family and working with youth she says we all need to make it clear that everything is all about love and, as Jesus commanded, “Love your neighbor as yourself”.

I know her and respect her judgment well enough to agree with her. Helping our youth grow, and also helping all our folks grow, we must somehow help them learn it really is all about love. We have to learn this from each other. The world is hurting in so many ways these days, and we all need to love and be loved. We are not getting much in the way of example from “leadership”, with the exceptions of some local leaders who are known to their folks, so we have to figure out how to live this commandment among ourselves.

While Jesus might not really care for all that is done in his name, I believe he does care how folks are abused in his name. There seems to be a major disconnect between Jesus’ Message and the structure that men have come up with to pass the message on. The structure itself has become the Message. It is hard to see much love coming out of “leadership of the structure”, either from the top or locally. How can we convince our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters that the way the church is treating them shows God’s love for them? How can we convince women that the church law forbidding them to be priests is an example of the great love God has for them? How can we convince our folks whose marriages have failed and who have chosen to try again in another relationship that the law preventing them from participating fully in Eucharist shows the great love God has for them? How do we convince priests who have been “silenced” because they dared to discuss the undiscussable that the way they are being treated by “leadership” is an example of how much God loves them? How can we convince our religious sisters in the LCWR that the current flap and placing them in a kind of receivership under the direction and control of three men is a sign of how much God loves them? How can we convince our folks locally that the way their parishes were closed or merged is to show them how much God loves them? How does the Church of these days promote itself as an instrument of God’s loving care when the institution treats its folks this way? Living God’s love might be a stated value, but it does not seem to be an operational value. It would appear that the stated value of “love” is replaced by the operational value of “power”.

Again, since there is not much in the way of examples of “Love your neighbor as yourself” coming out of “leadership”, we have to figure it out ourselves with each other. This emphasizes the importance of the parish and other such local communities gathering for Eucharist and learning through recognizing Jesus in this breaking of the bread what it is to love our neighbor, what it is that the Gospel is calling us to. This is true both for groups and for each one of us. Our relationship with Jesus includes everyone who is in our lives at any given moment, even “leadership”. For us at the lower end of the food chain it really does have to be all about love.

Jesus goes on to say, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you”. He chose each of us to be where we are so that right here and now we may learn to “love one another”. He did not say we are to judge one another, condemn one another, abuse one another, or discriminate against one another, but to love one another. Each of us and all of us might ask the Father in Jesus’ name just what it all means, just how we are to love one another right here right now.

I believe in the words of Pope Benedict XVI that the Gospel is to be proposed, never imposed, and the words he spoke when he was being installed as Pope: “Every one of us is the consequence of a thought in the mind of God; every one of us is important, every one of us is necessary, none of us is an accident”. My question these days is, are these words an operational value, or just a stated value?

Just saying   .  .  .


Entry filed under: Church Leadership, Current Church, Disobedient priests, Forbidden topics, Gospel thoughts. Tags: , , , , , , .

Gospel Thoughts 6 May 2012, I Am the Vine Gospel Thoughts 13 May 2012, Part 2

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