Tuesday, August 28, 2018
Today, in Mercy, Paul talks seriously with the community at Thessalonika. Some early Christians expected the final coming of Christ to happen imminently. They had become upset, and somewhat obsessed, with concerns and rumors about “the end times”. Reactions range from fear to panic to denial.
Paul basically tells the community to settle down – “Hold fast to the traditions that you were taught.” In other words, focus on the core teachings of your faith – love, service, and grateful, joyful worship – not on the imagined fears of some unenlightened shouters.
We see such misdirection manifested in fundamentalism, scrupulosity, exaggerated devotional practices, cultic behaviors, even superstitions – the kinds of attitudes Jesus condemns in today’s Gospel. These conditions cause us to become judgmental, elitist and superficial. They distract us from attention to the heart of our faith – mutual love, unselfish service, merciful justice, Christlike inclusivity.
Even as I write this reflection, we have a Church — like Thessolonia — fraught with turmoil. Many call it unprecedented, although any student of Church History knows it is not. Still. it is a time when we who love the Catholic faith must pray for light, courage and fidelity. Let us pray too for Pope Francis that he may rely on the Holy Spirit to help him act courageously and definitively, as Paul did, to right the Beloved Community.
As for each of us, the fullness of God needs a large soul – not one shrunken by its own pettiness, fears, and self-righteousness. As St. Augustine prayed:
Narrow is the mansion of my soul;
enlarge Thou it,
that Thou mayest enter in.
Music: A Heart Like Yours ~ CeCe Winans