Saturday, May 06, 2006

The true nature of the Church (Sunday homily)

The readings tell us a lot
about the nature of the Church.

And the key reality of the Church—
not always understood—
is that the Church is a supernatural reality.

But there is a lot of confusion.
Many have a "lowest common denominator" idea.
"We all believe the same things"—
that sort of thing.

But the oneness we believe
Jesus spoke of in the Gospel
is a much deeper and more substantial unity;
not a lowest common denominator "oneness."

Sometimes, folks will say,
"well, the essentials are the same."

Again, I’m sorry to be difficult, but:
no, they’re not!
Because part of the problem is,
we don’t agree on what those essentials are!

One of those essentials
is the Sacrifice of the Mass,
and the Eucharist.
At the Mass, the Cross becomes present here!
This is a real Sacrifice;
and that’s why the Eucharist—
which is a sharing in that sacrifice—
really is his Body and Blood.
God is in that tabernacle!
Jesus Christ is God—and there He is!
God will be on this altar in a few moments!

This is what we Catholics believe;
it doesn’t make us better than anyone—
but it is different.

And it’s why we don’t share
other church’s communion,
and why we don’t invite them to share ours.

We pray that one day,
we will be one flock, one Eucharist.

Another essential is the nature of the Church,
which I spoke about a moment ago.

For many, the Church is merely a human institution.
Many will separate Christ from his Church—
"I believe in Christ, but not his Church."

But Jesus Christ himself founded the Church,
on the Apostles.
He gave his own authority to them.
And that authority is still with the Church,
in the successors to the Apostles,
the bishops in union
with Peter’s successor, the pope.

Now, we know about history,
and the sins and failures.
But, don’t you see?
This proves that the Church is supernatural!
If the Church were merely
a human institution,
she would have been forgotten
by history long ago!

Jesus said he would be with his Church;
and we believe he does that
with his Holy Spirit,
who guarantees that the Apostles,
and their successors,
"got it right":
the New Testament;
the Tradition that comes to us
from the Apostles,
which we still preserve.

And when the pope and bishops
make big decisions
on matters of doctrine?
We believe the Holy Spirit makes sure
the Church "gets it right."

Don’t kid yourself—
the credibility of the Church is under attack.

There’s a popular novel, soon to be a movie—
that says, it’s all a lie—a big coverup!
I mean The DaVinci Code.

Now, I know many want to read it,
or see the movie.
That’s your decision.

But you need to know,
this book is an affront to our Church and our faith—
It’s a slap in the face to all of us!

And that people would take this hokum
and treat it as if
it has some deep truth to reveal,
shows the nature of the problem we face,
in folks not understanding
what the true basis for our faith is—
and why our Faith is credible.

And that basis
is what Jesus said in today’s Gospel:
"I am the Good Shepherd"—
I won’t abandon my flock!

Since he didn’t stay
to shepherd his flock personally—
rather, he chose others to carry on in his name—
Did he provide well for his flock—or not?
Is he good to his word—or not?

"But there’s so much that dismays us!"
I know. But that’s the miracle.
If you build a building out of good stone,
you expect it to stay standing.
But try marshmallows!
There’s the miracle of the Church—it still stands!

The first reading shows us both realities.
We see Peter—Peter, of all people!—
being strong and bold.
He brings healing to a crippled man;
and he stands up for Christ without fear.

We know all about Peter’s weakness;
his strength, like the miracle,
comes from Christ.

And there is the Church—
both human and divine.
It is Christ who makes it work—
he is the Good Shepherd.

1 comment:

Fr. Larry Gearhart said...

I had to read almost to the end to see the connection with the readings. Very cleverly done.