Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: "I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor! "

Thursday of Third Week in Course 2017

Joy of the Gospel

Ss Timothy and Titus

Today’s feast is a challenge to those whose denomination teaches that the Church is not hierarchical. Most of these denominations consider themselves Bible fundamentalists, but today’s readings clearly show that, from the beginning, the Church had a well-defined leadership cadre, in doctrine, liturgy and authority. Ss Timothy and Titus were bishops, in Ephesus and Crete, during the period of St. Paul’s ministry. They were ordained–that’s what “laying on of hands” means. All of us Catholics who bear the mark of holy orders had a bishop lay hands on our heads. Then the bishop put the Book of the Gospels into our deacon hands and told us to live what we preach, and preach what we read. Deacons are ordained primarily for service, priests for sacrifice and reconciliation, and bishops for headship. It is Christ’s idea, not some mere human’s.

In this week we in the United States are experiencing the secular leadership of a new national administration. Politics is in the headlines. The Holy Father understands politics, and writes as he muses on the application of economics to social justice for the poor: ‘I ask God to give us more politicians capable of sincere and effective dialogue aimed at healing the deepest roots – and not simply the appearances – of the evils in our world! Politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good. We need to be convinced that charity “is the principle not only of micro-relationships (with friends, with family members or within small groups) but also of macro-relationships (social, economic and political ones)”. I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor! It is vital that government leaders and financial leaders take heed and broaden their horizons, working to ensure that all citizens have dignified work, education and healthcare. Why not turn to God and ask him to inspire their plans? I am firmly convinced that openness to the transcendent can bring about a new political and economic mindset which would help to break down the wall of separation between the economy and the common good of society.

‘Economy, as the very word indicates, should be the art of achieving a fitting management of our common home, which is the world as a whole. Each meaningful economic decision made in one part of the world has repercussions everywhere else; consequently, no government can act without regard for shared responsibility. Indeed, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find local solutions for enormous global problems which overwhelm local politics with difficulties to resolve. If we really want to achieve a healthy world economy, what is needed at this juncture of history is a more efficient way of interacting which, with due regard for the sovereignty of each nation, ensures the economic well-being of all countries, not just of a few.

‘Any Church community, if it thinks it can comfortably go its own way without creative concern and effective cooperation in helping the poor to live with dignity and reaching out to everyone, will also risk breaking down, however much it may talk about social issues or criticize governments. It will easily drift into a spiritual worldliness camouflaged by religious practices, unproductive meetings and empty talk.

‘If anyone feels offended by my words, I would respond that I speak them with affection and with the best of intentions, quite apart from any personal interest or political ideology. My words are not those of a foe or an opponent. I am interested only in helping those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centred mentality to be freed from those unworthy chains and to attain a way of living and thinking which is more humane, noble and fruitful, and which will bring dignity to their presence on this earth.’

Pope Francis has certainly upset a good number of people over the past four years. I think we know why: his concerns are chiefly pastoral. They are the concerns of the Good Shepherd who does not want to lose any of the sheep, who turns his back on the ninety-nine in order to find the one who has wandered, or who has no shepherd. Moreover, he himself admits he is not a theologian. He is very unlike his predecessor in that regard. So let’s pray to understand what he is telling us, or rather what Christ is telling us through him, especially about ministry to the poor.

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