Sunday, July 29, 2012

On Urging

I, a prisoner for the Lord,
urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace:
one body and one Spirit,
as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 4:1-6

"I urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received..."  When's the last time someone urged you?  It's not a word that is used much.  I feel the urge to eat chocolate, often, but I can't say I'm frequently urged by someone to do something.  Here are some of the other words that could replace urge: implore, entreat, pressure, spur, prompt.  St. Paul isn't trying to sweet talk me into living up to my call; there is passionate force behind his words.  

And what exactly does he want?  St. Paul wanted the Church to remain whole and not be split apart because of disagreements or personality conflicts.  I am to endure with humility, gentleness, patience, and love - even when things get ugly or annoying - because God intended us to be one.  

This passage from Ephesians can be interpreted to fit many situations: difficulties within a parish, a diocese, or even an entire denomination.  Earlier in the week I read that Pope Benedict XVI said that the Catholic Church will become small and need to start over.  This is a paraphrase from his book Faith and the Future (which I just bought).  It's rather obvious that the Catholic Church is in the midst of struggle on many levels, but especially the "political" struggle between progressive and conservative.  

It's not clear what the future will look like.  This is what I hope it looks like: Catholic.  I am Catholic because I love this crazy Church with all it's traditions, smells, bells, and especially because she is the voice for Life in world gone mad.  

In the U.S. we are so used to the idea of a democratic republic that we think everything should be run that way.  The Church is not a democratic republic; it is a theocracy.  The whole purpose of the Church is to lead us to holiness and the Holy Spirit has promised to not abandon us.

An important question that every Catholic needs to ask him/herself is: Will I, as St. Paul urges, live up to the call to be a member of this Church with love and humility or will I insist on my way?  Will I remain faithful to the teachings of the Church?  Will I leave room in my heart for the Holy Spirit to educate me to the laws of God?  If I'm not willing to do this, then am I willing to walk away?

I don't want anyone to walk away from the Church, but I also don't want a fractured Church.  Come Holy Spirit and renew Your Church.

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