Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Accountable to you? No way!

August 12, 2009
Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Mass Readings:
Deuteronomy 34:1-12
Matthew 18:15-20

"Jesus said to his disciples:
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the Church.
If he refuses to listen even to the Church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector."

Accountability is something we usually like to apply to others but rarely ourselves. It is one thing to demand accountability and something harder to accept our own accountability.

Jesus is speaking of division in this morning's Gospel reading. The Body of Christ on Earth is each and every believer. We are a family that is united in our love of Christ and that requires many things from each of us and one of those things is accountability.

Jesus lays out a very simple and dignified way of dealing with division and sin in the Church. First we are to go to the one who has wronged us and seek to reconcile. Now, I don't believe that Jesus meant every time we are unhappy with someone. It is easy to get worked up and feel wronged if someone breathes wrong! Jesus isn't talking about our oft time desire to make someone be and do what we want. Jesus is referring to that true rupture of relationship where there is damage not only to the two involved but the entire Body of Christ. In other words, sin.

So. Go one on one and seek to reconcile. If that doesn't work, take some folks from the Church with you and seek reconciliation. Now here comes the kicker. If that person still refuses, take it to the whole Church! Seriously, can you imagine how well that would go over! And if that individual, or group, still refuses, then that person or group would be an outsider. Pretty harsh but it addresses just how serious division in the Body of Christ is viewed by the Lord.

If we are the Body of Christ and we are called to be the messengers of the Good News then we are all called to be accountable to one another. Not in the sense that we demand people meet requirements or pass a test to be considered worthy. It is that we are willing to admit wrong and do what is necessary to repair the rupture of relationship with God and one another. Our sin not only damages our relationship with God but also with one another as the Body of Christ. We are accountable to God for our actions and also to the other members of the Body.

So what would the Body of Christ on Earth look like if we took accountability seriously? I imagine it would look more like the Early Church. I don't mean that in an idealistic or romanticized way. I mean in the sense that the Early Church was a much smaller body and as such, it wasn't possible to hide when one had done wrong. As a result, people were held accountable. I worry that we have lost that reality of accountability and can lob "spiritual hand grenades" and then duck and hide and feel that we can get away with that type of behavior.

The community that practices mutual accountability is the one that becomes stronger because much is expected of those who have been given much. We are a community that has been given much and God expects much. It is our responsibility and privilege to work together in the best way we can and do all for the glory of God.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A new beginning.

Well, I am settling in at my new assignment and new posts are on the way. I hope everyone is having a safe and happy summer.

Here is a quote I came across recently and I want to share it.

"All our religion is but a false religion, and all our virtues are mere illusions and we ourselves only hypocrites in the sight of God, if we have not that universal charity for everyone - for the good and for the bad, for the poor and for the rich, and for all of those who do us harm as much as those who do us good".
--St. John Vianney--

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Thank you.

A big thanks to all who have sent me an email asking if I am still alive! Yes I am. I apologize for being so far behind. I have been working on a new project and getting ready to start a new assignment. My time has been consumed with so many parish responsibilities that I have let this blog slip.

I start a new assignment in July and I am hoping to jump-start this site and use it as a greater source of ministry. I plan on returning to my homily posts and perhaps add even more original material. I have a number of ideas that are brewing and I am excited to share them with any and all who would like that.

May the love of God, the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you always.

See you soon.
Fr. Jeff

Friday, February 6, 2009

Stuck in a rut.

February 4, 2009
Wednesday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Mass Readings:
Hebrews 12:4-7, 11-15
Mark 6:1-6

We humans are prone to getting stuck in ruts. I am a creature of habit and I have a morning routine that is seven days a week. I get up at the same time, I eat the same thing, blah, blah, blah. I realized it the other day when I realized that I even transport the morning routine with me when I am in vacation. I even take my breakfast things with me when I travel to see my family. I think my parents have just accepted my eccentricities. God love em.

The scene in our gospel text reminds of someone stuck in a rut. The people listening to Jesus believed that they knew what they needed. So determined were they in their belief, they were blinded to Jesus' message. The people firmly thought they knew just how, what, and who they needed to be the Christ of God. Sure in knowledge but wrong in practice. They could not accept Jesus because they knew him! How could someone they know be anything for them other than who they were convinced, knew, him to be? So, they knew he could only be the carpenter's son so they refused his offer of life.

I am painfully aware of how at times I am blind or deaf to God's Word because I cannot accept the messenger. There are figures in the world and even in the Church that I avoid listening to because I do not like their methods, views, or even theology. These people do not fit the way I believe things should be. I am not proud of this. It is judgmental on my part and I know it but it is the rut I am use to when it comes to these individuals. It is wrong of me to do this. Recently I made myself listen, really listen to one of these individuals and I discovered, even though I didn't agree with everything said, there were things I needed to hear. This individuals words made me rethink some of my preconceived ideas and "spiritual habits" that I just knew were the right way. I hate it when I am so sure of my self that I refuse to listen.

Needless to say, I needed to hear the words even though it was hard for me. I had to be willing to push myself out of my spiritual rut and be open to the Holy Spirit. I didn't care for the messenger but God used that person to reveal truth to me. All I had to do was shut up and listen.

The people in today's gospel couldn't take it upon themselves to push up out of their spiritual rut and be open to the Holy Spirit. It was their loss and Jesus left. It would be wise for us all to be open to the Word of God regardless of our belief that we think we know who, what and how God should speak. We may just find God speaks to us more than we ever dreamed.

So, back to the rut. We all have our routines and ways of doing things. I find routine sometimes reassuring. But, there is a big risk with being in a rut spiritually. We can dig such a deep rut in our spirit that we can no longer see or hear above the ditch we have dug.