Thursday, May 20, 2010

That We All May Be One

Let us break down the denominational barriers to love by loving one another as we have been commanded to do by Our Lord and Saviour.  We have been apart too long.  The family has been hurt too much by our separation, and it has hurt our witness to the outside world.

London, Ontario.  In 1517, Martin Luther decided that he had had enough of the duplicity that was going on in the Catholic Church, and decided in his earthly wisdom that he would reform it.  In this act of disobedience to the authority that Christ set up once and for all time in the Church, he created a schism that has had all who claim to love Jesus Christ rocking and reeling since then.  I would have done the same thing if I had the courage that he had, and like him I would have been right in one sense, but in most others dead wrong.  He chose to throw the baby out with the bath water, and to redefine not only those things that were man's sinful works within the Church, but those matters of faith and morals, including the confirmed content of the Holy Bible, matters that had been documented and reaffirmed by wise men and women of God for all the years of Christianity to that time.

But God accepted his actions, and also the wrong headed and perverse actions that had been going on in the leadership and in the "faithful" of the Catholic Church then, and persist in some areas even today.  Even when our actions come out of disobedience, anger, and/or fear, God turns all things to good for those who trust in Him, and so the Reformation that occurred has born much beautiful fruit.

In the mean time, the Catholic Church has never fully recovered from this schism.  If you smash a man in the head with a hammer, amputate his good arm, and favoured leg, blind him with an axe and then puncture his ear drums, how do you think that he will recover?  Particularly if you have walked away from him, leaving him in the dust, like those who passed on the other side of the road from the man beaten and bloodied in the story of the good Samaritan.

The Catholic Church was the church that Christ founded.  It was and remains based on His word, and upon the traditions of Judaism into which Christ was born, and the traditions, such as those we came to call sacraments that He instituted while here on earth.  The Holy Spirit has guided the Magisterium of the Church to document teachings, all of which are based on the Bible, and upon the rich history of the Church and Judaism.

The Catholic Church has had and continues to have sinners in it.  For "all have sinned and lack God's glory".  Some of our most serious sinners have sat in the Chair of Peter.  That does not make them unique, nor does it remove the love of God for each and every one of us, or for them.

I am tired and hurt by the ignorant and fatuous ramblings of those who claim that the Catholic Church is unbiblical, or worse still,  the whore of Babylon.  The Catholic Church is not perfect, and does not claim to be.  It does claim correctly to have unbroken (battered, bloodied and bruised though it might be) lineage from Peter and the Apostles.  Those who make claims against the Church and its teachings do so through their own interpretation of the Bible, and through their own earthly understanding of heavenly principles.

But, I am equally tired by those inside the Catholic Church, the Church that has been hurt so badly by the claims against it that date back to Luther, who have turned turtle, and became so legalistic to protect us from further harm after the Reformation.  Many in the Church stifled the Holy Spirit, and spoke out against individual reading of the Word of God, beyond that which was spoken out in Mass, causing a loss of focus on the beauty of scripture, and on the joy and peace that the Spirit brings to each and every one of us.  They locked the doors from the inside, and tried to protect further harm from entering in, unsuccessfully I might add.

So, while we confirm sacramentally our youth into the Catholic Church, and pray over them for the release of the Holy Spirit in them, we do not let them actually receive most of the gifts that the Holy Spirit has for them.  We have stifled that Spirit with that spirit of legalism.  Even with that, the Holy Spirit possesses all wisdom and power, and has come back into the Church, through Vatican II, and the outpouring brought to Catholic Christians from brothers and sisters of the Pentecostal movement, and it is good, and life giving.

The Catholic Church is our Mother.  When you criticize her, you are criticizing my Mom, and I love my Mom.  When you make up lies about her, that she is unbiblical or worse, you are crucifying her, and all of us who love her.  When will you stop hurting us?  When will you love us?

When will you forgive us for our failure to seek out the Word of God as many of you do in regular reading of scripture?  When will you forgive us for not embracing the Holy Spirit as some of you have?  We, in the Catholic Church have many faults, but the Word of God is written on our hearts, even if most of us cannot quote it back to you, and the Holy Spirit dwells in us, even if we attempt to stifle it.

On behalf of the Catholic Church, I ask you to forgive us for our sinfulness that has kept you away from us, and led many of you to stand in judgment of us.  I ask you to forgive our bad witness that has led you to believe that we do not love God and His Word, particularly His Word Made Flesh.

While we have been fed by the sacrament of love that Jesus instituted in the Holy Eucharist, many of us do not even believe that which we have been taught, that we are consuming Jesus, when we come to communion.  Yet, we still attend and are nourished by His Body and Blood regularly, even in our unbelief, because there is inside of us the yearning to draw closer to a God we know in our hearts loves us.

The Body of Christ has been fractured too long.  It has been like an ugly divorce, where we got the sacraments, devotion to Our Blessed Mother, and the communion of saints, and some scripture, and you got the love for the Word of God, and the fullness of the Holy Spirit's indwelling.

Many of us have discovered that we need your love of the scripture, and your trust in the Holy Spirit, and have embraced it in our lives.  Loving the Bible and receiving the Holy Spirit has enriched those of us who have done so.  It has given us back the fullness that the Body of Christ was designed to have.

In the meantime, many of you have adopted the legalism for which you have justifiably criticized us over the years.

It is time.  It is time to heal the wounds that separate us, and find common cause in our love of Our Saviour.  It is time for each of us to forgive past hurts and prejudices, many of which are so old that we are not really a party to them, even if we carry them on.  It is time for us to "Love one another", as Christ commanded us to do, and it is time to preach "repentance for the forgiveness of sins."

But, first of all, it is time for us to seek each other's forgiveness and to repent of our personal sin, the hardness of our own hearts, that keeps us from seeing Jesus in each other.

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