Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Thursday, May 19, 2022
Holy Ghost Church – 8:00 Mass
Acts 15:7-21; Psalm 96:1-2a, 2b-3, 10; John 15:9-11
Christ’s love for Christians is a reflection of the love the Three Divine Persons have for one another and for all men: “We love, because He first loved us”. The certainty that God loves us is the source of Christian joy, but it is also something which calls for a fruitful response on our part, which should take the form of a fervent desire to do God’s will in everything, that is, to keep His commandments, in imitation of Jesus Christ, who did the will of His Father.
When Christ says, “Keep my commandments and remain in my love,” he is talking not only about the Ten Commandments but also about the Church. What is the Church? It is Christ’s extension through time. We cannot say, “Christ, yes; the Church, no,” because the Church is the mystical body of Christ; the two are inseparable as head and body.
The Church, through its sacraments and its inspired teachings, makes Christ present for us now, today. It is through this Church that we received the gift of faith. Therefore, to remain in Christ we must remain enthusiastically in his Church.
Christ chose the Apostles to continue his work of redemption throughout the ages. Therefore, we should love our priests and our bishops, the successors to the Apostles. We must pray for them, not criticize or attack them, even when we don’t agree with their decisions.
As we pray for our priests and bishops, we must also pray for the man whom the Holy Spirt has chosen to lead the Church, Pope Francis. He is the rock on whom God chose to build his Church.
It is sad that today we are so quick to judge our Holy Father, to attribute to him all of the division we are experiencing in the Church today. The fact is that division in the Church comes about when we are so sure that our expression of the faith is the only valid expression. We are just as much to blame for division in the Church as is the Pope or any of the bishops. Our stubborn attitudes and prejudices as members of the body of Christ are the real reason for this division.
We see this stubbornness in the members of the early Church in today’s first reading when they refused to accept the Gentiles unless they adopted the practices of the Jews. This insistence on maintaining the status quo is referred to by Peter as “putting God to the test.” This attitude that the old way is the only way, or at least the BEST way, separates us from God in that it can close our hearts to the movement of the Holy Spirit within the Church.
When we close our minds and hearts to the movement of the Spirit, we become part of the problem. When our opinions are different from what the Church teaches, we should immediately question them and pray that our beliefs will come into alignment with Mother Church’s time-tested and anointed teachings.
Dear friends in Christ, let us today take a good hard look at how our opinions about what’s happening in the Church today might be a stumbling block to our growth in holiness. Let us do as the members of the early Church did when they opened their hearts to the Spirit’s movement and realized that God makes no distinction between them and the Gentiles. Let us, too, make no judgements about those whose preferences for liturgy and personal piety are different from our personal preferences. God bless you.