-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at www.usccb.org
-check out this week's LinC Letter at www.parishlincletter.blogspot.com
-I will be celebrating mass at 5:30pm on Sat and 9:30am and 12:30pm on Sunday
The whole point of the second Vatican Council (1963 to 1965) was to "open the windows of the church" so that the gospel might flow more effectively into the world. This insight and purpose of the fathers of the church was repeated by Pope Francis at his election when he assessed the church as being "closed in on itself - self-referential".
Many critics of the church in the time since the second Vatican Council have misinterpreted the purpose of the council by evaluating the effects of the council on the church rather than seeing the effects of the church in the modern world. Many see that "opening the windows" of the church only as having invited modernity into the church, to have "modernized" the ancient church. They don't mean that as a compliment.
There is no denying that the efforts of the church to engage in and with the modern world has in fact invited modernity and worldliness into the church. However, this unintended consequence possibly can be foreseen in the perplexing parable today of the dishonest steward. What I mean by that is, that the use of the things, systems, technologies, communications, and other advances of the world in the mission of the church to the world is what I believe Jesus was communicating in this parable of the dishonest steward. Ingenuity!
The "children of light" have to become more ingenius in their efforts at spreading the gospel. Ingenuity, a mixture of smart and effective, is a tool and a path available to the ministries of the church to help them engage the hearts and minds of men and women in the world. I recently had a conversation with a parishioner who was expressing her complete alienation from and disenchantment with the ministry of our parish( in spite of her dedication to weekly Sunday worship). She was expressing her longing for the pre-Vatican II hay days of the Baltimore catechism, Monarchical bishops and priests, cultural warriors, Gregorian chant, antagonism with contemporary society. By contrast, she was being critical of all of the attempts of the church to engage with contemporary men and women.
I think the Lord's parable of the dishonest steward is a critique of this "self referential" anti-cultural, otherworldly approach to church and ministry. I am as frustrated as anyone with the failure of the church to become a priority in the lives of modern men and women, however, resorting to the pious, devotional, isolated, defensive disengaged, fortress-like existence of the pre-Vatican II church is not the solution. Besides, we cannot put the genie back in the bottle and even if we could, which several have tried, we would not succeed in Jesus's command to bring the gospel to all nations.
We must rather persevere in the ingenuity of engaging with the gifts and the minds and hearts of modern men and women with the purpose of drawing them more deeply into the heart of Christ which is the centerpiece of our Catholic faith, eternity lived in the communion of the faithful from now unto everlasting life.
Get into the ring! How this works...
This is easy! Each week on Thursday I post my homily idea...my main focus for preaching this coming Sunday. What I am hoping for is a reaction from people in the pews. Does my "focus" connect with your daily life, faith, and experience? Or not? Either affirm the direction I am going in (by giving me an example from your life) or challenge me, ask for clarification! Questions are the best! Reaction rather than reflection is what I'm looking for here. Don't be afraid, get in the ring. Ole!