The human family and the family of God

“Last Wednesday, I emphasized the deep bond that exists between the Holy Spirit and the Church. Today, I would like to begin on the mystery of the Church, a mystery which we all experience and of which we are part.” — Pope Francis, General Audience, May 29, 2013 (L’Osservatore Romano, English, June 5, 2013)

“The ‘koinonia-communio’ of the Spirit of the Father and the incarnate Son is, as it were, the Council’s master key, as the principle of communion and mission. The key opens our access to the mystery of the Church, the universal sacrament of salvation, in all its dimensions: Trinitarian, Christological, anthropological, ecumenical, and pastoral.” — Marc Cardinal Ouellet, “Communio”: Address, May 21, 2013, Sydney, Australia.

Over the years, priests are often reminded of Christ’s admonition that “you have not chosen Me, I have chosen you.” I was ordained on June 7th fifty years ago in San Francisco. In retrospect, one might question the Lord’s prudence about whom He chooses. But, if we remember that He also chose Judas and a few other sour apples along the way, we need not become too vain. The world is full of folks who purport to be scandalized by sinful priests or by a vice filled Catholic laity. Such reactions just mean that these critics have never read the New Testament. While it condemns sin at every turn, especially scandal, the Gospels gives us no indication that, with the appearance of Christ in the world, His followers will subsequently be perfect.

Rather, Christ came into the world with the clear realization that most of us would need to be forgiven many times (”yea, seventy times seven” Matthew 18:22) before it is all over. Christ did not dwell amongst us to eradicate sin’s possibility and hence our freedom. He came to provide a way in which, should we sin, we could be forgiven, but only if we choose to avail ourselves of the means He set down, not those we concoct for ourselves. The Church, with its priests and sacraments, exists in the world so that such a redemptive purpose might be carried out in the concrete context of everyday life, wherein most of our sins are committed. Continue reading


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