Fr. Tom, 08-14-16

Dear Loyola Parishioners & Visitors,
“While keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, … [c]onsider how
he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you
may not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle
against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of
shedding blood” we read/heard in our second reading
“Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the
earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a
household of five will be divided…” we read/hear in our
Jesus was divisive. The parables he told, subversive. He
challenged and offended his followers, the crowds that
gathered around him, the religious authorities, and his own
family members. Jesus is believed to have been an early
follower of John the Baptist until they broke from one
another. At one point Jesus tells John’s followers to tell
John, among other things: “Blessed is the one who takes no
offense at me.”
The Church speaks on many topics. Its positions,
individual Bishops positions, sometimes offend and
challenge our way of life, attitudes, values, cultural beliefs,
etcetera. We want to both believe we can live according to
the prevailing cultural beliefs and norms of our society and
our Christian faith. Individual priests, myself and Fr. Dirk
included, sometimes will interpret our culture through the
lens of the scriptures (or ours and others’ interpretation of
them) and arrive at positions that offend and challenge
those who hear our words.
Neither of us claims we have definitively interpreted the
scriptures and applied them to our cultural context. Both of
us claim, the Church claims, the Bishops claim, that we
cannot both be followers of Christ and not in conflict with
the prevailing culture and our own selves. We are all
sinners. With our eyes fixed on Jesus and considering how
he endured such opposition from sinners, might my own
anger, disappointment, offense come from the active
presence of sinful attitudes and practices in my own heart
and life around what I so strongly reacted to? Might my
acceptance of some other position, which has wide popular
support, reflect my acceptance of sin in that area of my life
and/or our common life? In my struggle against sin, have I
so clung to Christ that others would want me dead like
Jesus experienced, his early disciples, the martyrs
throughout history, those who resisted death-dealing
regimes like the Nazis and Stalinist Communism, those
Christians suffering persecution and death now in nonChristian
nations, Martin Luther King, Jr., the list
Of course, not all conflict, division and offenses are
because we are following Christ’s way. But, sincerely
keeping our eyes on Christ, applying the scriptures to our
lives, and experiencing conflict and division and offending
others may just be revelatory of our authentic discipleship.

Fr. Tom