There are not over a 100 people in the U.S. that hate the Catholic Church, there are millions however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church, which is, of course, quite a different thing.- Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Monday, January 24, 2011

Was Martin Luther crucified for you? How about your nondenominational pastor?

So one of my friends invited me to see the former lead singer of a Contemporary Christian Music band at her church… what I didn’t originally realize was that 1) he would be talking rather than singing and 2) it would be at her weekly Sunday church service. And, honestly, I feel awkward at other denominations’ church services. So once this misunderstanding was corrected, I did decide not to go. I wouldn’t feel as awkward going to another Catholic rite’s church because… well… we’re all Catholic. But the separation with other denominations is actually significant. This probably isn’t an interesting topic for a blog post, except that this is what this Sunday’s second reading was about.

 I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that all of you agree in what you say,
and that there be no divisions among you,
but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.
For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters,
by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you.
I mean that each of you is saying,
“I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,”
or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.”
Is Christ divided?
Was Paul crucified for you?
Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel,
and not with the wisdom of human eloquence,
so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.” (1 Cor 1:10-13,17) (NAB)

I couldn’t help thinking… Is Christ divided? Was Martin Luther crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of John Calvin? Or whoever the creator of your denomination is. I feel awkward around other denominations because Christ should not be divided! All Christians should be “in the same mind and in the same purpose… to preach the gospel”! It’s a scary thought to say that splitting from the Catholic Church (the Church founded by no one but Christ) empties the meaning of the cross of Christ! And we have thousands upon thousands of not only denominations, but independent non-denominational churches, set up by one pastor and based on the interpretation of the Bible of that one pastor. I don’t know whether Martin Luther actually said it, or whether it’s been paraphrased to death but he essentially said “I sought to take down one pope, and in the end I had hundreds.” Instead of getting rid of the papacy, the reformation told people “you can be your own pope.” People set themselves up in competition to the Pope as the source of truth. Kinda reminds me of when Adam and Eve set themselves up in competition to God as the source of good and evil. Even today, people try to say that there is good-for-me/true-for me and good-for-you. In retrospect, the one good thing Adolf Hitler has done for the world is he has become a perfect refutation of this argument. Besides, we still have a criminal justice system… anyone who believes the good-for-you argument and believes in making sure murderers end up in jail is contradicting themselves. It’s not a livable ideology: to use scientific terms, the evidence does not support the conclusion.

Other thoughts on this weeks readings are:
The first reading and Gospel are generally designed to go together. If the Epiphany readings didn’t convince you of that, then this week’s readings will. Jesus quotes the old testament! “The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light.” I would propose that if you’re a Catholic who has sat in church weekly, you would probably recognize a lot of Bible verses if you heard them… you just wouldn’t be able to find them or remember them easily. We know them, we just can’t quote them. Maybe that’s just me because I’m a lector and am beginning to see the same readings for a particular Sunday over and over (Pentecost… Christmas… I wouldn’t remember where to find the readings (other than Acts) but I recognize them when I see them again). Like psalms. We go through so many psalms… Last night, when I was reading the parts of the Bible and Catechism for today, I had psalm 22, which Jesus referred to when on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Psalm 23 is “The Lord is my shepherd.” Psalm 27 is “The Lord is my light and my salvation.”

You should recognize that one at least. It was the responsorial psalm for this week. The point is, Catholics who go to Mass would probably recognize more of the Bible than they think they do (and more than some Protestants think they do).
This is probably my favorite version of Psalm 27:

The main point, I would say, of this Sunday’s gospel was the call of the Apostles. And the question proceeding from it is “What is God calling you to?” And I would say, that is the Catholic way of saying “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?” Only not selfish sounding.

CCC 97 “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God”
        95 “Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others”

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