Monday, May 16, 2011

More thoughts on the "Good Shepherd"

Readings for the day:
Acts 11:1-18
John 10:11-18

This past weekend we celebrated "Good Shepherd Sunday". So named because the Gospel for the day is Christ's discourse, related in the Gospel according to St. John, on the good shepherd. This is used by the Church as a particularly good time for encouraging vocations. It isn't for no reason that Pope John Paul II named his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Pastores dabo vobis - I will give you shepherds.

It occurred to me, as I listened to today's first reading, that what is missing today is a trust in today's shepherds when it comes to teaching and discipline. In today's reading Peter is challenged by the Jews regarding his activities with the gentiles in Ceasarea. But after he explained his vision and the actions which followed they rejoiced!

What a far cry from what happens today. The Holy Father, or a good bishop in communion with him, does something, makes a judgement, writes a letter, etc., and he is subjected to immediate questions and judgement. Now, as we saw in today's reading from "Acts", questioning the actions of our pope or bishop is not, in itself, a bad thing. In fact, given many of the things that have gone on over the years, it's probably a good thing. However, once the explanation is given we should also be rejoicing!

Sadly, we don't rejoice. There is always someone to question every aspect of the pope or bishop's decision. Some gripe that he didn't go far enough. Others gripe that he went to far. And from there all kinds of over broad and grandiose, or on the other hand - dismissive statements are proclaimed.

This "magisterium of the individual" is something that I have experienced with priests (and bishops not so in-communion with the pope) and laity alike. Whether it is principles of theology, prudential applications of moral theology, or disciplines of the Church (liturgical, moral, and otherwise) someone always seems to know better. Ugh!

How about we stop passing judgement on our pope or bishop's teaching or decisions and, after asking questions which will lead to understanding, REJOICE??? I am certian that it would lead to not only greater peace within the Church, but also a more wonderful witness to the power of the Spirit acting in the Church today just as it did in the time of the Apostles.

You don't care for the extraordinary form of the Mass? Then don't celebrate it. But don't criticize those who do! You think something is missing in the ordinary form of the Mass? Then go to an extraordinary form Mass and rejoice that whether it is the ordinary form, the extraordinary form, the Eastern Rites, or the Anglican usage, we are all one body in Christ!!!

Be sure, there's stuff that I'm not so thrilled about either, but what the Church allows is not to be dis-allowed. I might also add that what the Church dictates is not to be "bitched" about (even if it involves moving yet another holy day to the nearest Sunday :)).

So, as we celebrate this week following Good Shepherd Sunday, let us be sure to give thanks for our good shepherds. Also, hold them up in prayer daily. Lord knows I don't get through a week but for the prayers of so many faithful and loving people. Amen!I'd have one of Bishop Callahan, whom I love dearly, but I don't have one and couldn't find one. Next time!