23 February 2011 Memorial of St. Polycarp, bishop and martyr
Sirach 4:12-22; Psalm 118; Matthew 9: 38-40
The readings today is particularly important in evaluating our ‘exclusive’ tendencies. This closed mentality is what Jesus calls the “yeast of the Pharisees.” The disciple John complains about other people who do not belong to their group, but nevertheless perform miracles by driving out demons in Jesus’ name. To John, no one, other than those within their circle, has the right to do what Jesus commanded.
Jesus took the opportunity to teach the disciples to veer away from the closed and ancient mentality of the “chosen people” – to be the chosen people was seen as an exclusivity, a monopoly of God.
But Jesus responds, “You must not stop him; no one who works a miracle in my name could speak against me. Anyone who is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9,40)
Jesus widens our horizons. He wants us to realize that God’s grace also operates outside of the walls of our groups, organizations, congregations, political views. That God’s grace is not bound by our own categories.
To me this has some implications.
Within the Church, what is your attitude towards people who are also Catholics, but do not worship the same way as you do? For example, if you like the Latin rite, do you look down on those who prefer the vernacular? If you like pre-Vatican liturgical music, what is your attitude towards pop liturgical music that makes the young sing?
On certain gray areas in terms of our moral lives, what is your attitude towards co-Catholics who may not agree with your stance? Do you make a general and sweeping statement that they are of the devil? What if they have decided on a clear conscience a stand which is not the same as yours, do you condemn them to hell?
The stance of Jesus also has ecumenical implications on exclusivity. In the Church’s document on dialogue with our Christian brothers and sisters, do you reach out to them also, or are you hostile to them – even if they have hostile tendencies to Catholicism? Even if they have openly criticized our practices on public television? Is it possible to still see that they too do good in Jesus’ name?
I admit that the Church lacked proper catechism. The 2nd Plenary Council of the Philippines said that our faith is uninformed. Though genuine, our faith has been maintained by popular piety. There are many who have not had bible studies. When some Catholics transfer to another sect, where they get the biblical studies that we have not offered to them, and in turn, they lived a good Christian life according to the teachings of Jesus, who are we to judge that that is not God’s grace?
– Posted by Jboy Gonzales SJ using BlogPress. Copyright 2011.