Sunday, July 5, 2015

Redemption As Inclusive

Today's start of the visit of the Holy Father to countries on his home continent of South America has brought a resurgence of news and blog commentary about traveling to, reaching out to or in someway giving priority to "the peripheries".

The theme or notion is indeed catchy or so it seems. I noticed at home in the U.S. on vacation that some elderly priests I know, especially if they happen to have an anti-European bias, really like the concept and see it as a sort of affirmative action program directed toward empowering or at least drawing closer to those who are alienated or perceived to be deprived of a full voice in the life of the Catholic Church. What never gets enunciated in the process, however, is just what we have to offer to those who are far off. Through no fault of the Holy Father's, what comes across is an aimlessness about this reaching out to others.

For whatever reason, people seem to miss the heart of this "social gospel"; they fail to see themselves in this encounter as Christ-bearers. Sadly, whether knowingly or unknowingly, that part of the spectrum of opinion makers which is left-leaning to heterodox tend to push the periphery theme at the expense of other dimensions of the Pope's message to the Church and the world. They do Pope Francis a disservice and leave us short-changed if not worse, at a time when valuelessness or relativism seem to be menacingly on the march, trampling all in their way to wherever they might deny to be headed. The beautiful Christmas antiphon which I link above in the subtitle sings and says it all fully and tenderly. Our universe must be configured or reconfigured around Jesus, the Son of the Eternal Father.

As timely a message as reaching out to the peripheries is, there is much more to be heard from Pope Francis and it does not seem to get the attention it deserves. Relativism and the tragic spirit of the age must be contradicted or confronted, yes, challenged. Sadly, we seem to have forgotten that aimlessness or indifference constitutes not a broadening but a narrowing of our horizons and as such a hindrance. Values need to be affirmed and the focus must be upon the Lord Jesus, living and reigning in His Church. We need to get back to the basics. St. Paul worked constantly to draw the Gentiles to whom he was sent out of this impasse:

"We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. In return— I speak as to children— open wide your hearts also." [2 Cor. 6:11-13]

Real love and life are won by those who run after Christ in the fragrance of His garments. The age must be confronted in its opposition to the only begotten Son of God: quare fremuerunt gentes... It must be done with the same grace as the beautiful antiphon is sung.

We hope and pray for the countries to be visited, for South America in general, and for all the world. May hearts open wide and the King of Glory, the Beloved Son, enter in and take possession of our hearts!


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