Sunday, May 7, 2017

Rise, and eat.

We get caught up in the excitement of what God has given us that often times we forget that God is not bound to our own ways.   Many will claim that their Church is the only way and that anyone who isn't of XXXX denomination isn't 'saved.'   At the time that Peter had his vision that was their way as well.   The people who the disciples of Christ were reaching out to where Jewish in some way... semi-Jewish... quasi-Jewish... almost Jewish, but Jewish.  It's interesting that some try to make this vision about dietary laws, though I agree we are not under those, this vision is not about that... it's about the Gentiles.  We see that because a few seconds after the vision three gentiles show up (three times the sheet was lowered, and three times he was told not to call unclean what the Lord had made clean.)   Peter, a practicing Jew, got up and immediately went with them.  That's not something he normally would have done... it would have made him unclean.

60 The people descended from Abraham would be the trustee of the promise made to the patriarchs, the chosen people, called to prepare for that day when God would gather all his children into the unity of the Church. They would be the root on to which the Gentiles would be grafted, once they came to believe.

Jesus reminds us of this calling of all people when He declares I am the gate.   My people know me, and I know them.  Then He says the most telling words, "I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd."  There are two errors that we often make in regards to this.   One is we stop evangelizing, and declare that all people are saved.   We aren't freed from that.  Not all will be saved.  There will be many people at the banquet of our Father in Heaven for the wedding of His Son, not just from one church or people.  We must continue to spread the message, the Good News!   The other error is that we think that we have a monopoly on God.   God owns our Church, our Church does not own Him.   He can save whomever He wants, and we see that He is working on people all over the world.

2686 Ordained ministers are also responsible for the formation in prayer of their brothers and sisters in Christ. Servants of the Good Shepherd, they are ordained to lead the People of God to the living waters of prayer: the Word of God, the liturgy, the theological life (the life of faith, hope, and charity), and the Today of God in concrete situations.

So what does that mean for us?  As Catholics, we believe we have the fullness of faith.   That is, Jesus has revealed to us the best way to worship God and to show that we are in that relationship.   Yet, we must acknowledge when we see God working in others.   Through other religions, Natural Law, or even just their conscience.   We encourage the good that we see there... the common things that we have with them and reinforce that understanding of God.   We form friendships and bonds and encourage spiritual growth in all people.   We don't hide the truth.   We witness to who Jesus is, and how immense and wonderful the Love of the Father is.   We share our faith in its entirety as often as we can, and with actions as well as with words.  Then we let God do the conversion.   It is not our place to force someone to repent.   Not our place to be the one who decides their eternal destiny...  we aren't God... we are just a sign on the street pointing in the right direction.   It's our place to recognize the voice of Christ in whatever form it comes into the world and listen to it even if it comes in the most unexpected forms.

His servant and yours,
Brian Mullins

"He must increase, I must decrease."

A reflection on the readings for Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter:  May 7, 2017