Exodus 19:2-6; Romans 5:6-11; Matthew 9:36-10:8
Saint John Baptist de la Salle June 18, 2023
Recently, I was having a conversation with a Baptist minister who I have known for quite a few years. However, there was a lot of sadness in our meeting because she was being asked to leave the church she had been a member of for over fifty years and the pastor of that church for the past seven years. Why? Because the Southern Baptist Conference had just voted to remove all Baptist churches with women pastors from its Conference unless they dismissed them at once. Their reasoning, "Only men can be pastors, it says so in the Bible." So, there you have it, it must be true because the Bible tells me so.
During lunch, she remarked that getting to know me had led her to know Catholics better and had changed her thinking about many aspects of the Catholic Church. "I have learned that the Catholic Church is not static," she said, "I do hope that the Catholic Church will recognize that women can be pastors too."
"We are working on it," I told her, "just not too quickly." Those of us who are over fifty also know that this is true. Although there are those who want to somehow pull us back into the past, we know that our Church has changed, simply by the many new words we have added to our vocabulary. Words like Permanent Deacons, Ecumenism, Liturgical Coordinator, Preferential Option for The Poor, Women Priests, we could go on and on. Yes, we have come a long way in a very short time.
Today's reading from Exodus makes us aware of how much God is concerned for people. The quality of the lives we live means a great deal to God. Just in case people have missed this point, today's Gospel reminds us that, "At the sight of the crowds, Jesus' heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned."
Jesus' concern for the poor and the troubled is simply a continuation of God's feeling for God's people. If you were to take a course in Scripture, you would learn that there are 170 passages that show this concern by God. If I were to recite them all, we would be here into the evening. So, let me just give you one example from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah: "He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken." Please find the other 169 passages for yourselves when you get home. We must always remember that Scripture was written to guide our lives and our society. Our personal lives are filled with troubles and anxieties, "we are troubled and worried about many things." However, our choice for Jesus is what sets us apart from the rest.
On the other hand, many of our social issues are so complex they can't be easily solved. An example of one issue that is concern to all us is violence, especially gun violence. As we become more and more aware of violence, we ask with greater and greater anxiety, "Can we do nothing about it?" In fact, there is something we can do about violence, and on a personal level. We must become personally acquainted with kindness, patience, tenderness, and understanding. We must become more Christlike in the ways we respond to the violence around us. If for every violent act we experience from the media, we were to offer an act of gentleness and kindness in our homes, schools, businesses, and on our streets, how different our lives would be. We welcome all into our Church, whomever they may be. Make this proclamation: "The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons." "Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give."