Wednesday, October 16, 2013

No Distinction

For there is no distinction; all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.  They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as an expiation, through faith, by his Blood, to prove his righteousness because of the forgiveness of sins previously committed, through the forbearance of God–to prove his righteousness in the present time, that he might be righteous and justify the one who has faith in Jesus.  Romans 3:22b-26

“Woe to you, scholars of the law!  You have taken away the key of knowledge.  You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.”  Luke 11:52

"I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire." Ignatius of Antioch

How pleasant Jesus is to his hosts!  He gets right down to brass tacks.  St. Luke reports no small talk or compliments delivered when Jesus sits down to eat with the Pharisees.  He takes them to task and speaks “truth to power.”  The bold Jesus at the dinner table is in marked contrast to the humble Jesus of Good Friday who does not defend himself before Herod and Pilate. 

Clearly “all have sinned.”  As St. Paul reminds us in the first reading, the key to escaping from (or being forgiven of) our sins is faith in Jesus.  To exemplify that we have to 1) hear what he has to say and 2) act upon it.  Just because these scholars of the law may have studied the prophets and achieved an elevated status in society, does not mean they have any special key to heaven or exemption from trials here on earth. 

That key will be given to Peter whose faith will be tested mightily by the powers that be.  But Peter’s reaction is different from what we learn today.  The change we see in Peter is in stark contrast to the lack of change that the Pharisees exhibit following the encounter in today’s scripture.  Despite repeated warnings from Jesus every time he sits down with them, the Pharisees do not change.  They dig in their heels to protect the status quo or their power and position.  Peter gives up everything and follows Jesus all the way to his own cross.   

Who can resist putting the lessons of today in contrast with the example of the emerging papacy of Francis and to the bickering happening (and ending for now) in Washington?  The lesson of today reaffirms the rejection that Pope Francis displays for the trappings of power and the acceptance of his mantle to protect the vulnerable. 

What does it mean or matter for you and I?  We have no power in the political or ecclesial sense beyond our day-to-day actions.  This always brings me back to the Ideal talk on Friday morning of a Cursillo weekend.  We can only answer this by how examining we use our time, talent and treasure. 

Tonight, the men of the 127th Weekend will report for “Cursillo” duty at the San Damiano Retreat House.   Pray that the Ideal talk falls on open ears.  Take out your notebook from the weekend and review that talk in the spirit of Christ, Peter, Paul and St. Ignatius of Antioch – all examples for us of rejecting power today for glory tomorrow. 

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