Life after Epiphany

Entreaty to a local Christian community radio station: please consider the prayer of Our Lord in Jn 17

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enemyofmyenemyintodarknessYou’ll have heard it said “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and if you’ve read this in a book of quotes or if you watched the recently released Star Trek: Into Darkness, you’ll be spitting chips that I haven’t given the quote its attribution… purportedly an Arab from times long past. Actually, if you’re interested in really knowing the origins, you might find this fact -check of interest… turns out Spock was wrong.

Perhaps a less Machiavellian spin on the same idea is found in Christ’s lesson for St. John in Mark 9:38-40.  In the text, John gave a report to Jesus of a man who was casting out demons in Christ’s Name but was not from among Christ’s own party of Apostles. Perhaps it is my own projection of my littleness that suspects it, but I almost get the impression that John is expecting Christ to be angered and to take action against such an “outrage.” Perhaps he felt that someone was trampling all over his territory? At any rate – John sure got schooled! Christ’s response was to tell John to leave the man alone, that anyone who did mighty things in His Name could not quickly then speak against Him… an implicit suggestion that the power of His Holy Name precludes duplicitous/opportunist behaviour in those who sincerely call upon It, and on that basis that “he who is not against us is for us.”

John learned that he and his companions did not have the monopoly on goodness; the beloved disciple learned that he did not have the monopoly on the Lord’s love. The Lord can work great deeds through whomever He pleases and to do this is His Divine Prerogative. We put God in a box at our spiritual peril… for our attempts to make God smaller are then turned upon ourselves. We who are already nothing become even smaller.

It is on this basis that I call upon Sydney’s local Christian radio station, to whom I have donated in the past and whom in principle I support, to consider carefully what they choose to broadcast pertaining to other Christian denominations that don’t necessarily fit the “Evangelical” paradigm.

I was listening to the Open House program about 3 or 4 weeks ago, where Leigh Hatcher, the host of the program, was interviewing Richard Gill, a highly experienced educator who has been teaching music to children for many decades.

Hatcher questioned at length about the guest’s Catholic school upbringing, and highlighted many regrettable realities about the way that the Catholic school system operated some 60 years ago.  Simply asking the questions wasn’t a problem. I wouldn’t dream of disputing the truth of what happened back in those days in Catholic schools, nor would I dream of defending it.

I DID have concerns, however, about Hatcher’s stated purpose in asking the questions and dwelling on some of the responses. There was a none-too-subtle parallel illustrated between the inexcusable excesses with the cane of that time and the scandals for which the Church, among many other institutions across our nation, is currently under investigation by a Federal Commission.

The gentleman being interviewed spoke about the faulty and disordered understanding of sin, grace, forgiveness and freedom that left him disturbingly guilt-ridden. I regret that this is the understanding with which he walked away, but the views that he described are NOT representative of the views of the Catholic Church. In no Catholic exegesis of Scripture, nor in any Magisterial text, will you find those views espoused there. It certainly sounds as though there were teachers at his school who did him a disservice in both the content and the methods of his religious instruction. My concern is, however, that these unfortunate experiences of this man were being put forward as normative, not only for the time in which he was educated, but in contemporary times, too.

This is simply an unfair representation of the Church that quite frankly constitutes a nasty cocktail of detraction in so far as the events described truly did happen, and slander in that some of the interpretations and representations made thereafter are simply untrue. When misinterpretations are publicly aired they can do much damage.

Please hear me: for all our disagreements on points of doctrine, the primary mission of the Catholic Church here on earth is to evangelize, to spread the Gospel message and hopefully help others to embrace a relationship with Jesus Christ. In this, we share alignment in that task with which Christ commissioned us just before He ascended into Heaven.

Jesus Himself said that he who is not against us is for us. Why then would you slander those who are aligned with you in serving Him and spreading His Gospel?

I listen to your radio station because most of your content is wholesome, clean and fun. To hear what I have just described on a Sunday evening was VERY disappointing.

What does the Lord desire for us, His children? Scripture tells us that He prays for us at the Last Supper… this prayer gives us some insight into what it is that He wills for us. In John 17 Christ prays that all of those who come to believe in Him through the word of the Apostles become one. Authentic communion with each other in the Blessed Trinity. Well… we’re not there yet. I trust that the Father will answer the prayer of His Son in His good time. I also believe that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, He is already at work in us, shaping us slowly into one people, His people.

I love the Lord most dearly and I desire that His prayer be fulfilled. I trust that those of you who work on the Open House program also love Jesus and would wish to see His prayer answered. This is a work of God, yes, a work of His grace. But surely we want to COOPERATE with this work rather than place barriers in the way? The barriers won’t stop God from bringing about His Will, but I just can’t see how anything other than our best effort at full cooperation with His grace constitutes a response of love for Love.


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