Who Is Sent Out

I was struck this morning by the conjoining of the two readings for today’s Mass on this celebration of the conversion of St. Paul.  The first reading is one of the two accounts of the conversion contained in Act’s – this one, the first person recounting of the event by Paul.  The Gospel is Mark’s account of Jesus’ final appearance to his disciples.

Paul’s account ends with Ananias telling Paul, “you will be his witness before all to what you have seen and heard.”  And Jesus last words to his disciples are his instructions that they “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

We are reminded over and over again that the “sending out” did not stop at the Apostles. Yesterday at the final session of the series on the Creed I’ve been offering at Our Lady of Lourdes, we discussed our belief in the “holy, catholic, apostolic Church.  As the apostles were sent out, so was Paul, and so are we.

The sending out of Paul – the former persecutor of Christians – reminds us that God does not only call the best, the head of the class.  Over and over again, God surprises us by the fact that he invites even those we would not think of as being on the invitation list.

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2 thoughts on “Who Is Sent Out

  1. Susan’s post this past Monday continues to stir Spirit, emotion and quandary. . .

    “We discussed our belief in the holy, catholic, ‘apostolic’ Church. As the apostles were sent out, so was Paul, and so are we.”

    The last of the Iowa presidential primary poles are being revealed. If Christians were polled, who would the results reveal has sent us out – the Lord or church leaders?

    “The word of the LORD came to me, saying:
    Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I dedicated you,
    a prophet to the nations I appointed you.”
    (JER 1: 4–5) UCCB, first reading at Mass this morning. . .

    “Love never fails.
    If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing;
    if tongues, they will cease;
    if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
    For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
    but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
    When I was a child, I used to talk as a child,
    think as a child, reason as a child;
    when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
    At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
    but then face to face.
    At present I know partially;
    then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
    So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
    but the greatest of these is love.”
    1 Corinthians 13: 8–13 UCCB, second reading at Mass this morning. . .

    Mid-day this past week, during a rebroadcast of a previous episode of ‘The Journey Home.’ A doctor and leader of Catholic adult faith formation in his diocese responded to Marcus’ question, ‘Do you see a time when the faiths may be reconciled?’

    To paraphrase, ‘Possibly with the Orthodox Churches, though their Patriarchal structure continues to have difficulty accepting Papal authority. Years ago there may have been hope within the Catholic and Anglican churches, though their ordination of women remains a stumbling block and their more recent ordination of women Bishops makes it impossible to reconcile. Many of the faith (The Catholic Church) believe the most we can hope for today is to draw as many as possible (new converts and those who have left the Church) to the faith and salvation.’

    Marcus’ guest mentioned that the RCIA program and process has continually improved, though currently after two years 50% of those who have become Catholic are not fully practicing their (new) faith. Some surveys cite the allure and growth of Evangelical and mega-churches are partially due to 87% of millennials who express the Catholic Church is judgmental and hypocritical.

    Controversial author, columnist and blogger, Rachel Held Evans in an interview last March expressed, “If you try to woo us back (to faith communities) with skinny jeans and coffee shops, it may actually backfire. Millennials have finely-tuned B.S. meters that can detect when someone’s just trying to sell us something. We’re not looking for a hipper Christianity. We’re looking for a truer Christianity. Like every generation before and after, we’re looking for Jesus—the same Jesus who can be found in the places he’s always been: in bread, in wine, in baptism, in the Word, in suffering, in community, and among the least of these. No fog machines required.” – Rachel Held Evans (Religion News Service, Jonathan Merritt, March 9, 2015)

    Rachel’s discernment over the evolution of (including her) Evangelical faith recently led her to the Episcopal Church – in her faith journey, a faith home both traditional, progressive and welcoming. All Christians, and those of many beliefs, are called (sent) toward ‘one’ destination – though, is there only one path?

    This past month an Orthodox priest I respect expressed in person and social media his concern for the salvation of those outside of the Orthodox Church, including Catholics, especially Protestants and those of the Jewish faith.

    Grace, Sacramental or (in some beliefs) Ritual is often Catholic (universal) in nature and the need for a ‘priesthood’ to administer is often as universally held.

    Is there hypocrisy in Pope Francis’ calls to mercy, reconciliation and unity in Love? Not at all! In the Church he shepherds? Often yes! In the Christian tradition, did Jesus die for the forgiveness of sins and to overcome death only for Orthodox believers, only Roman Catholics?

    Just as Baptism and (confession of sins) Reconciliation are Christian invitations to the Eucharist, originally likened to a ‘get-out-of-jail’ (hell) free card used once until repentance upon one’s death bed, had not the Old Covenant held sacred a day of atonement?

    Yom Kippur is the moment in Jewish time when we dedicate our mind, body, and soul to reconciliation with God, our fellow human beings, and ourselves. We are commanded to turn to those whom we have wronged first, acknowledging our sins and the pain we might have caused. At the same time, we must be willing to forgive and to let go of certain offenses and the feelings of resentment they provoked in us. On this journey we are both seekers and givers of pardon. Only then can we turn to God and ask for forgiveness: “And for all these, God of forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, and grant us atonement.” (Reform Judaism.org)

    If the Holy Spirit inspired the four original Sees (Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem to join with Pope Francis (deferring to him as Paul and Barnabas deferred to Peter in the early years of the Church) in faith and doctrine, would the Cardinals and Magisterium accept the same secondary role as would be offered to the Patriarchs of Moscow, Georgia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Albania, Poland, Slovakia, the Americas and the five autonomous Orthodox Churches of Sinai, Finland, Estonia, Japan and Ukraine?

    Whose interest, souls or self, would hold sway? If one believes the two recent synods (extraordinary and ordinary) on the family were contentious, imagine the debate of reconciling the faiths? Souls or self?. . .

    “abundant life is not only personal, but communal,” experienced in bread, wine, water, words, touch, sound, and smell. In the sacraments, “Jesus comes to us again, and again, and again, and again,” – Jes (Rachel Held Evans blog)

    Communal (shared by all members of a community). How diverse the Christian definition of communal, or community and how often restricted to justification of doctrine and beliefs. How often ‘religions’ have become excusive walled enclaves creating shadow and darkness with the Kingdom of prophecy. . .

    Sacramental grace – such blessings. Though ‘Sacraments’ are often professed as illegitimate and of little or no benefit if not sanctified and administered according to the doctrine and practices of ‘our’ faith’. To what are we sent to testify and witness?

    Rose Sweet is a most inspirational speaker who has courageously chronicled her healing after a difficult and abusive marriage and divorce and she offers ‘The Catholic’s Divorce Survival Guide’ to help others from broken marriages. Bless her ministry and her blessed new (remarried) family.

    As the Catholic Church vigorously continues to justify that Catholic marriage cannot be dissolved, professing an abandoned or abused spouse must be denied the Sacraments when remarriage could benefit her (or he) and their children (children, who represent the sanctity of life, Right to Life, holds so dear), and expediently honored with sainthood John Paul II who ‘chose not to see and stop’ the abuse of children by his clergy during his papacy – what canonical law enables some abused spouses (who entered into marriage of sound mind and body) to be granted an annulment, while denying the same loving mercy to another?

    Insufficient use of reason (Canon 1095, 10)
    You or your spouse did not know what was happening during the marriage ceremony because of insanity, mental illness, or a lack of consciousness.

    Grave lack of discretionary judgment concerning essential matrimonial rights and duties (Canon 1095, 20)
    You or your spouse was affected by some serious circumstances or factors that made you unable to judge or evaluate either the decision to marry or the ability to create a true marital relationship.

    Psychic-natured incapacity to assume marital obligations (Canon 1095, 30)
    You or your spouse, at the time of consent, was unable to fulfill the obligations of marriage because of a serious psychological disorder or other condition.

    Ignorance about the nature of marriage (Canon 1096, sec. 1)
    You or your spouse did not know that marriage is a permanent relationship between a man and a woman ordered toward the procreation of offspring by means of some sexual cooperation.

    Error of person (Canon 1097, sec. 1) Reasons for Marriage Annulment
    You or your spouse intended to marry a specific individual who was not the individual with whom marriage was celebrated. (For example, mail order brides; otherwise, this rarely occurs in the United States.)

    Error about a quality of a person (Canon 1097, sec. 2)
    You or your spouse intended to marry someone who either possessed or did not possess a certain quality, e.g., social status, marital status, education, religious conviction, freedom from disease, or arrest record. That quality must have been directly and principally intended
    .
    Fraud (Canon 1098) Reasons for Marriage Annulment
    You or your spouse was intentionally deceived about the presence or absence of a quality in the other. The reason for this deception was to obtain consent to marriage
    .
    Total willful exclusion of marriage (Canon 1101, sec. 2)
    You or your spouse did not intend to contract marriage as the law of the Catholic Church understands marriage. Rather, the ceremony was observed solely as a means of obtaining something other than marriage itself, e.g., to obtain legal status in the country or to legitimize a child.

    Willful exclusion of children (Canon 1101, sec. 2)
    You or your spouse married intending, either explicitly or implicitly, to deny the other’s right to sexual acts open to procreation.

    Willful exclusion of marital fidelity (Canon 1101, 12)
    You or your spouse married intending, either explicitly or implicitly, not to remain faithful.

    Willful exclusion of marital permanence (Canon 1101, sec. 2)
    You or your spouse married intending, either explicitly or implicitly, not to create a permanent relationship, retaining an option to divorce.

    Future condition (Canon 1102, sec. 2)
    You or your spouse attached a future condition to your decision to marry, e.g., you will complete your education, your income will be at a certain level, you will remain in this area.

    Past condition (Canon 1102, sec. 2)R
    You or your spouse attached a past condition so your decision to marry and that condition did not exist; e.g., I will marry you provided that you have never been married before, I will marry you provided that you have graduated from college.

    Present condition (Canon 1102, sec. 2)
    You or your spouse attached a present condition to your decision to marry and that condition did not exist, e.g., I will marry you provided you don’t have any debt.

    Force (Canon 1103)
    You or your spouse married because of an external physical or moral force that you could not resist.

    Fear (1103)
    You or your spouse chose to marry because of fear that was grave and inescapable and was caused by an outside source.

    Error regarding marital unity that determined the will (1099)
    You or your spouse married believing that marriage was not necessarily an exclusive relationship.

    Error regarding marital indissolubility that determined the will (Canon 1099)
    You or your spouse married believing that civil law had the power to dissolve marriage and that remarriage was acceptable after civil divorce.

    Error regarding marital sacramental dignity that determined the will (Canon 1099)
    You and your spouse married believing that marriage is not a religious or sacred relationship but merely a civil contract or arrangement.

    Lack of new consent during convalidation (Canons 1157,1160)
    After your civil marriage, you and your spouse participated in a Catholic ceremony and you or your spouse believed that (1) you were already married, (2) the Catholic ceremony was merely a blessing, and (3) the consent given during. The Catholic ceremony had no real effect.

    The effort and energy the Church expends to retain purity of doctrine and belief. . .

    Shortly after the middle of this month, it will have been four years since the passing of Professor Mark Osler’s dear friend Katherine Darmer, who in life suffered greatly for giving voice to those without voice. The Sunday Mark shared the ‘Hole’ her passing left in his life, I posted an unauthorized eulogy on his blog (eulogizing a life of one I never met and only knew of through Mark’s passionate post). The following Monday, I assume my mind projected the image that appeared of Katherine from Mark’s posting onto my mirror. However, I believe she spoke to me that morning, and continues to do so each morning since, “Will I hear your voice today, Christine?”

    Were we sent to be Christ’s presence in the world or to journey through life justifying doctrine and beliefs that separate much more than embrace Pope Francis’ calls to mercy, reconciliation and unity in Love intended to bring about God’s Kingdom on Earth?

    ‘. . . the most we can hope for today is to draw as many as possible to the faith and salvation.’

    The almost 2,000 years of waiting for His Kingdom Come, appears to be a foreshadowing of a much ‘longer wait’. . .

    . . . As the apostles were sent out, so was Paul, and so are we.”

    Who has sent us out? . . .

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