• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐
    圣福若瑟神父

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动
    圣杨生•爱诺德神父

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Friday, 08 September 2017 11:36

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - 2017

Written by Fr Larry Nemer SVD

Sunday Reflection_23rd Sunday of the Year (2017)

Fr Larry Nemer SVD 150When I was a Seminarian I had no problem with the Gospel text for today. It seemed to me that Jesus was laying out a “simple program” to ensure that the Community stay united. If someone was misleading the community it was important to correct him. (In our seminary days we called it “fraternal correction” which unfortunately was not always done out of love for the individual or the Community.) If the person refused to change, then it was important to cut the contact between him/her and the Community. And so, when, as seminarians, we were told not to read certain authors because they had been “silenced” by the Pope we had no problems with that. We felt that the Pope was doing his best to keep the Community united.

But then in the 1960s, right after my ordination, I discovered that this “simple program” was not so simple after all. I was studying in Rome when the Second Vatican Council was being organized. Suddenly we were reading all those authors who had been “silenced”. In fact they became the leading theologians resourcing the Vatican decrees. It seems some people had misled Pope Pius XII into thinking that the most creative theologians writing in the 1940s and 1950s were “dangerous”. And it was the Community, represented by the 2000 plus bishops gathered in Rome, that affirmed that they were not only not “dangerous” but also were the ones who should be studied. I began to realise that it was not always easy to decide who was in the wrong and who needed to be “silenced”.

It became even more complex for me when I returned to the United States in the 1960s and found myself in the middle of the Civil Rights controversy. I remember there was an Augustinian priest in Chicago who was leading marches by Catholics against Martin Luther King who was working for an integration of neighbourhoods. The Archbishop did not “silence” him, but he did tell him to stop organising marches. There were many Catholics in Chicago at the time who felt that Martin Luther King was “dangerous” and therefore Catholics should have nothing to do with him. On the other hand some of my fellow SVDs who worked in African-American parishes believed that the Church should support Martin Luther King. The priest who recruited me to the SVD and was working in one of those parishes joined Martin Luther King on the March to Selma. He said it was the first time that he was spit upon by Catholics. The Catholic community was divided and there was no “simple” solution.

Fortunately there has always been a tradition in Church History that favoured inclusion rather than exclusion as a way of keeping the Community united – it was the way of patient love. One time St. Boniface who was busy reforming the Church in France wrote to the Pope complaining about some of the bishops who were keeping two or three concubines living with them. He asked if he should stop visiting and eating with them. The Pope said: by no means; sometimes more good can be accomplished by sharing a meal with them than by rebuking them and withdrawing. Francis of Assisi in his rule said that the friars who would be going among the Moslems could go as “silent witnesses” of their faith or as preachers of the faith. If they went as the latter they should expect martyrdom. However, he said the friars must always preach Christ –- and use words only if necessary. Pope Francis has continued in this tradition of not judging but rather strengthening the unity of the community through love and acceptance.

In the summer of 1961 I was studying French in Grenoble, living in one of the poorest parishes in the diocese with a most remarkable priest. Our Church was a two-car garage; our living quarters were wooden shacks. But he was already anticipating many of the changes that would come with Vatican II. We said Mass facing the people. Most of the Mass was said in French. The sacraments were celebrated in a way that was relevant to the participants. We would often have dinner with parishioners (since we had no kitchen!). So when I saw him again in 1975 I said to him: Robert, you have always been ahead of the institutional Church; what should I prepare myself for? One of the things he stressed was that the Church must become a “welcoming community”. He said that there were times in history when the Church had to be the teacher and the disciplinarian, but today the Church must be a welcoming community because people in this age will be more in need of being loved than in many other ages. How right he was.