A Message from our Pastor -- June 23, 2013
Today’s second Mass reading sounds quite lovely and peaceful — but only because we are not hearing verse one, which proclaims, “O stupid Galatians!” Paul scolds the Church in Galatia because its members are in danger of doing very stupid indeed, namely, falling into a mentality of division based on the law.
“Brothers and sisters:
Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.
For all of you who were baptized into Christ
have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither slave nor free person,
there is not male and female;
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
And if you belong to Christ,
then you are Abraham’s descendant,
heirs according to the promise.”
Paul exhorts those who will hear his letter to remember that they are one, or should be one, and that the very human tendency to divide is not from above. The devil loves to put into our minds the toxic idea that one group is superior to another because of race or money or power, but God, through Jesus, has shown us that we are all invited to bask in his love and share it.
This has ramifications for how we run our homes and open our hearts—as Pope Francis has said, for example, the Sacrament of Baptism is not merely for children from “ideal families” but for anyone whose mom or dad requests it in faith. Marriage, too, should not be only for couples who are registered in the parish and who get a gold star for Mass attendance, but for all couples willing to embrace the Catholic vows: openness to having children, fidelity to each other, and permanence. Even Catholic schools are not merely for those children whose record is spotless, but for students (and parents) willing to embrace the vision of Catholic education and cooperate lovingly with other families, with teachers, and with the parish community that built the school.
Naturally, as human beings made in the image and likeness of God, we have brains that tell us we should do our best, rather than merely coasting along. We possess a conscience that, correctly formed by mom and dad and Church, tells us to avoid this bad thing and pursue this good and decent thing. We have a soul which is more than just our visible body, and so we focus not merely on buying the latest fashions, the spiffiest car, or the most impressive home, but rather we focus on using our money and time and talents to improve ourselves and our world in spiritual and concrete ways that please God.
We listen to Scripture. We study the teaching of the Church. We pray and meditate. We listen to the homily at Mass. We discuss faith issues with our loved ones. We talk honestly about morality and what being a genuine Christian should look like. We take the gift of faith, given to us freely at baptism, and truly care for it like a precious baby, we examine it like a fascinating text, we embrace it like a beloved spouse, we polish it like a treasured memento from a grandparent. We don’t stick it into the closet and ignore it. We avoid anything that would push our conscience to imitate Paul in saying to us, “O stupid Galatians!”