Thoughts, 1 July 2012, # 2

June 29, 2012 at 13:53 2 comments

In today’s Gospel (Mark 5:21-43) Jesus responds to Jairus’ request to heal his daughter by immediately going to his house. On the way a sick woman touched his cloak and was healed. In neither case did Jesus demand proof that the persons involved had the right terminology to address him, ask them to clarify their marriage status, orientation, or anything like that. They didn’t have to pass a test or take an oath. He didn’t quiz them on their beliefs or do background checks. He simply went to where they were and helped them, living his Father’s love.

It is a legitimate question to ask where the church structure got the idea of behaving as it does these days. Jesus did not give us the church structure we have today. Constantine did that. Jesus gave us the Gospel, and a group of us humans appropriated it to ourselves and made a system of it. The nature of a system is to protect and perpetuate itself, which the church structure does very well. Jesus and the Gospel have very little to do with it. Power and control, on the other hand, are honored values – keep people in line by whatever means, and all will go well. The system seems to be designed to keep people out, and to throw out folks who don’t mouth the right words or wholeheartedly support the right ideas. The practice of silencing persons who do not use the “correct” terminology or mouth only the approved views and interpretations, not to mention determining what topics can or cannot be discussed, seems to me an abuse of human dignity. I don’t understand how any of this is following Jesus and living his Father’s love, but I guess that is my problem.

Then there is the notion of a smaller purer church. This certainly seems to be happening, since so many folks, especially the young, are walking away. The qualifications for the smaller purer church seem to be using the right words and forgoing the thought process, coupled with a selfrighteously judgmental attitude. I have seen some of this and I’m not interested. In spite of the many “Come Back Home” campaigns, who would want to be part of a church like that?

For some years I was part of another system and I saw how some people made it work well, while others used it to its worst. For example, when one of our chaplains was blown up in Iraq, I had to find his advance directive and living will back here in the US. I went to several offices to ask where it was. The civilians would flat out say that they were not authorized to discuss it with me. I would then ask to see an NCO who worked in whatever office I was visiting. Their usual response to my request for the documents was always along the lines of, “Sir, I can’t tell you that if there were such a document it would be in this place in the file I have here on my desk, and I can’t tell you that there is no document here where it would be”. My response would be along the lines of, “Sergeant, and I can’t tell you ‘thanks'”. This happened on a regular basis. These guys taught me a lot about systems and about folks, and about leadership. I think there might be a parallel in the church system and folks coming to see they really are good. Good people wanting the good that is rightfully theirs can do a lot when grace moves them, or something to that effect. The public face of the Army system is impersonal, while the day to day dealings with it show soldiers helping soldiers. The public face of the church system shows not a few idiocies and insensitivities, but at least at the lower end of the food chain, good folks, including many pastors and pastoral bishops, are just trying to serve the folks as best they can, and doing a good job of it, often in spite of the leadership. (By the way, I have nothing against civilians. Some of my best friends are civilians. That was just the way things played out then.)

In the middle of the night today I was called to the local ER for a person who had died, and her family was asking for a priest. When I got there I experienced again the humbling privilege of serving others. In the last analysis the Gospel really is about helping folks. In many places this is happening quite well, in others not so much. It seems there might be different emphases. The “good stuff” happens in the parishes. For many, if not most, of us the leadership is becoming ever more embarrassing and irrelevant, not to mention out of touch with ordinary life. Their focus seems to be protecting their rights by imposing them on others. Their actions are driving folks away, but this seems to be seen as a good thing. Somehow this all must relate to authentically living the Gospel because leadership says it does, but I don’t know how.

Just sayin  .  .  .


Entry filed under: Catholic, Church Leadership, Cleveland Diocese, Current Church, Forbidden topics, Gospel thoughts, Priest. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

Thoughts, 1 July 2012, #1 4 July 2012, Current Local Events

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. John  |  June 29, 2012 at 14:24

    We are in a small parish (150 families or less) that is very vibrant and alive, To my mind this is what Our Lord had in mind when He said Church! One priest and a small number of PEOPLE ( not folks) worshipping together. Everyone knows everyone else and looks out for each other. This is what Church is about not the trapping of ermine, or Red Hats or rings or crosiers or whatever. We do not need them nor their wearers! We need pastors not autocrats who say do as I say , period. You folks are too stupid to know what is right or not!

  • 2. Jim Dubik  |  July 2, 2012 at 10:24

    Great story about the superb sergeants that our Army is lucky to have. Permit me an observation from the other end of the spectrum: from one who had responsibility to “run the bureaucracy” on several large Army instalations.

    One of the best ways for me to keep my job in perspective came from the sport of curling. Odd, eh? Well, I veiwed my job as the sweeper–removing obstacles from those who really did the work, my subordinates and their subordinate’s subordinates. I talked about this view of leadership often, and tried to encourage others to adopt it most by example.

    Good things happen below; they can be amplified from above.


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