Saturday, 30 August 2008

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A

Jeremiah 20:7-9; Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 16:21-27

The word seduction is defined in the dictionary as: leading someone out of the way, persuading them into surrender.

In our readings today there seems to be quite a lot of seduction going on.
  • Jeremiah is seduced by God into speaking the difficult word of repentance to his stubborn people.
  • The pagan world of St Paul's era was seducing Christians into behaving like pagans.
  • And Peter is trying to seduce Jesus out of the way of his plan of suffering – which is the plan of God.
And where is the battlefield in which this struggle to seduce one another takes place?

Paul warns: Do not model your selves on the behaviour of the world around you but let your behaviour change, modelled by your new mind.

The battlefield is the mind; change a man’s way of thinking and you change his behaviour.

To Peter Jesus says: Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path, because the way you think is not God's way but man's (Mt 16:23).

To convert his followers Jesus has to lead them out of their mind; he had to persuade them to surrender their way of thinking; this is not easy to do.

As a priest I try my hardest to show people the importance of thinking the way God thinks which is the way the Church thinks; I practically beg them to let God form their minds. What stands in the way is always that most treasured possession of ours - our own opinion!

We all love our opinions; we are terribly attached to them; we treat them as the final word on any subject. Nothing is more sad than the man or woman totally trapped in his or her own opinion, victims of what they think they know. They are like people floating in an ocean filled with sharks, oblivious to the dangers, and treating would-be rescuers as wicked enemies. How tragic!

A survey conducted by the Pew Forum between May and August 2007 on more than 35,000 American adults revealed that 48% of Catholic respondents favour legal abortion (16% in all cases, 32% in most cases), while only 18% agree that abortion should always be illegal. 58% said that society should accept homosexuality.

At the very least these figures show that a huge number of Catholics no longer think as Catholics; although they vigorously insist on identifying themselves as such. Their thinking is now ‘man’s way’, the thinking of the world. They do not understand, or perhaps they do, that they have broken with the Catholic Church; they are no longer in communion with the Catholic Church’s teaching; they have become something else!

The thinking of the world has invaded our Catholic Church and it terrifies me.

Are the words of Jesus only ‘his opinion’? Is the teaching of the Church only ‘her opinion’? Am I standing here week after week, year after year, telling you ‘my opinions’? Well if I am, you must have a lot of time to waste; you must have a very boring existence; I suggest you need to go and get yourself a life.

Opinions cannot save you! They may entertain you but they cannot save you. Truth alone can save you; only absolute truth can lead you to God. And let me remind those of you who call yourselves Catholics and yet obstinately, wilfully, deliberately express your erroneous opinions to the young and the ignorant, and cause them to fall into sin, that Jesus said: Anyone who is an obstacle to bring down one of these little ones who have faith, would be better thrown into the sea with a great millstone round his neck (Mark 9:42).

If you have been keeping up with the events at St Mary’s Catholic Parish in South Brisbane you have there a prime example of exactly what I am speaking of. Two priests leading an entire congregation out of communion with the Catholic Church. They justify themselves with specious ‘feel good’ arguments but all the time they are drifting away from truth, the authority of the Archbishop, and disappearing over the horizon, taking many with them.

Archbishop Bathersby has written: St Mary’s seems to be an authority to itself. Despite the good that it does, it places itself outside the practice of the Catholic Church. Therefore we might well ask is it a parish in communion with the Roman Catholic Church, or a community in schism. [ .. ] In reality St Mary’s South Brisbane has taken a Roman Catholic parish and established its own brand of religion.

Let me ask you here today: Have you established in your mind your ‘own brand of religion’; your own brand of the Catholic faith? Is your thinking Catholic?

It is not important how great the number of people who think the wrong way, it’s still the wrong way. If the whole world believed abortion or any other grave sin was acceptable, it would still be a grave sin. To put it another way, the truth has never depended on the number of people prepared to believe it, it is still always the truth. I would hate for any Catholic to live, or worse still to die, on the wrong side of the truth.

Our task as Catholic Christians is to ‘put on’ the mind of Christ. We do this by thinking as the Church thinks, by believing what the Church believes and living the moral life of Catholic disciples, following in the footsteps of the Master. I urge all of you to ‘think again’ and if you have drifted, clinging to your ‘opinion’, swim back to the truth, to the barque of Peter, the Church; this is the place of salvation.


Jo said...

People outside the Catholic Church and sometimes Catholics themselves are very seductive in trying to suggest your living in a fantasy world because you are different and see things different to them. It's hard to live in the way of TRUTH, when others around you scoff at you for pointing out the obvious wrongs, for listening to Christian music, reading a religious magazine or saying your prayers.

Therese said...

I find that the church is becoming more and more relevant in my life. The things she has to say about a whole heap of topics, her practices and high calling to holiness are exciting and a great challenge in life.

On the other hand you have secular humanism which is so shallow and self serving. I find its preoccupations with money and never ending search for self pleasure irrelevant to my life. The garbage that comes out of the secular tv, radio and news papers are generally irrelevant to living a good and holy life.

Steven Royals

Volpius Leonius said...

That was excellent Father, thank you.

MFG said...

Oh Fr Speekman!

Re: "the way God thinks which is the way the Church thinks."

How can you possibly say that? It is as absurd as saying "the way a man thinks is the way an amoeba thinks!"

Stop trying to make God as small minded as the Roman Catholic Church.

The stone priests might mow down the mutant flowers in Brisbane, but it is the Church destroying itself!

My God(!) we could do with some wisdom now.


Shirley said...

Excellent post, and along the same lines of the post I made today. It seems that there is a movement to undermine the strong traditions of the Church and replace them with "man's way". It's scaring me.

Delima said...

Thoughtful, powerful, faith-filled and...... yes,seductive! Like the prophets, what more could you say to help us put on the mind of Christ! Thank you.

Gina & Dan said...

Wow, that just got better and better.
Talk about truth, that whole homily was soooooooo the truth!
How right you are Fr, yet how sad it is...that they have, "become something else."
We have to stick to the truth, and not be afraid of what everyone else thinks or says about us...this is hard, but Jesus was the victim too. I mean, how hard would it be being crucified!!!
This was my FAVORITE paragraph!!!

"At the very least these figures show that a huge number of Catholics no longer think as Catholics; although they vigorously insist on identifying themselves as such. Their thinking is now ‘man’s way’, the thinking of the world. They do not understand, or perhaps they do, that they have broken with the Catholic Church; they are no longer in communion with the Catholic Church’s teaching; they have become something else!"

Mark said...

dear mfg,

you asked for some wisdom; may I suggest you read Paul VI's Credo of the People of God for an explanation of what it means to be Catholic.

Here is a brief excerpt, regarding the Church which you apparently think so little of:

We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church built by Jesus Christ on that rock which is Peter. She is the Mystical Body of Christ; at the same time a visible society instituted with hierarchical organs, and a spiritual community; the Church on earth, the pilgrim People of God here below, and the Church filled with heavenly blessings; the germ and the first fruits of the Kingdom of God, through which the work and the sufferings of Redemption are continued throughout human history, and which looks for its perfect accomplishment beyond time in glory.[24] In the course of time, the Lord Jesus forms His Church by means of the sacraments emanating from His plenitude.[25] By these she makes her members participants in the Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Christ, in the grace of the Holy Spirit who gives her life and movement.[26] She is therefore holy, though she has sinners in her bosom, because she herself has no other life but that of grace: it is by living by her life that her members are sanctified; it is by removing themselves from her life that they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for these offenses, of which she has the power to heal her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Heiress of the divine promises and daughter of Abraham according to the Spirit, through that Israel whose scriptures she lovingly guards, and whose patriarchs and prophets she venerates; founded upon the apostles and handing on from century to century their ever-living word and their powers as pastors in the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him; perpetually assisted by the Holy Spirit, she has the charge of guarding, teaching, explaining and spreading the Truth which God revealed in a then veiled manner by the prophets, and fully by the Lord Jesus. We believe all that is contained in the word of God written or handed down, and that the Church proposes for belief as divinely revealed, whether by a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal magisterium.[27] We believe in the infallibility enjoyed by the successor of Peter when he teaches ex cathedra as pastor and teacher of all the faithful,[28] and which is assured also to the episcopal body when it exercises with him the supreme magisterium.[29]

We believe that the Church founded by Jesus Christ and for which He prayed is indefectibly one in faith, worship and the bond of hierarchical communion. In the bosom of this Church, the rich variety of liturgical rites and the legitimate diversity of theological and spiritual heritages and special disciplines, far from injuring her unity, make it more manifest.[30]

MFG said...

Dear Mark,

Thank-you for the comment which I read with some interest.

Unfortunately the statement you quote seems to be a case of taking similes too far.

I'm forced to describe it as "pseudo-mystical rubbish."

No wisdom there - no Holy Spirit either. (The Spirit makes things clearer, it does not obfuscate.)

I don't hate the Catholic church - I just find myself frustrated with it sometimes.

Sorry Mark - I appreciate your efforts but am not convinced.


Anonymous said...

one who is confused cannot be convinced. You are simply confused. May God enlighten your mind.