Sunday, August 31, 2014

Proclaiming Christ Crucified

"When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God." [1 Corinthians 2:1-5]

I started a new book this morning; I did it with high hopes based on the promises made in a review I had read. It seemed to be right up my alley and better because of the scribe's mastery of a long list of world class intellectual giants. In point of fact, the author does take on and do a great job with recourse to a lot of the philosophical and theological heavyweights both of today and of all time. I am sure I will finish it and I may even give the book a great review myself, but today I am setting it aside, because I can't seem to get beyond the author's fondness with intellectual "flexing" and trying to measure up, this being his choice of path to secure the Church a place in the wasteland of the public square. Perhaps I am being unfair and just running with an impression. Hence, for now at least I will leave him and his book out of the discussion.

The issue is not one of any fundamental disagreement but rather one of the urgency of the proclamation of the Gospel. Jesus, sending out His disciples, told them to proclaim peace to the house they entered and to move on in the face of hostility or rejection of their message. What has changed? Why should having to share in the Cross of Christ, in the rejection which led to His crucifixion outside the walls, come to us as novel? The drama seems to climax when all of a sudden we realize that our efforts or failures at proclamation have not equaled or even come close to copying those of St. Paul. If we were truly living and proclaiming Christ the reaction of the world would not be indifference.

I keep coming back to the question a young man from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here in Kyiv posed to me quite earnestly not all that long ago: "My superiors want to know what the Holy See can do for us in this our time of need". The problem or the embarrassment stems from the ambivalence of our witness. Indeed! What do you or I as a committed Christian, as the Church of Jesus Christ present and acting in the world, have to offer? It is not a rejection of the greeting of peace extended by the disciple in the name of the Master, but a failure of the disciple to be that unequivocal sign or representative of the Crucified One.

Let us just say that it is not a bad Sunday reflection and a good personal challenge. In the last couple days the Holy Father has spotlighted two young priests, one ministering in Gaza and the other to refugees in Iraq. Both men, obviously, have credibly spoken their "peace to this house" and entered in. What more is there that we can do? Let us pray for each other and rededicate our efforts to lift high the Cross, both in season and out.


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