Happy New Year to All! Here we are in a whole new Year some 2015 years after Jesus the Nazarene walked the earth. It is amazing. One of the reasons that I find it amazing is that at the time after Jesus’ Ascension one of the first crises the young Christian Church faced was that people were losing faith because the second coming was delayed. They expected Jesus to come very soon after the Ascension. He was to come defeat all evil and injustice and his followers would reign with him forever. One of the reasons that many of the first Christians chose to follow the disciples of Jesus was this belief that there would be a sort of immediate gratification. They would not have to wait long for paradise. As time went on and the men and women who knew Jesus personally began to die and/or be martyred this belief of Christianity had to change or as we like to say today; develop/grow. I think that we often think of our faith as a box of beliefs that was handed down from generation to generation that always was the same and always will be the same, but, in fact, this is not the case. Our faith has lasted for 21 centuries not because of its rigidity, but because of its elasticity. In the days of Jesus there was no question about the Triune nature of God. This did not arise until a couple of hundred years later. In the early days of the church there were not anything that were called Sacraments. They would celebrate mass in people’s homes and then would follow that up with a potluck dinner (a.k.a. Agape Meal). They had no conception of a Church building until years after Constantine was Emperor. In the Dark Ages, as they are called, the leaders of the church were men and women who devoted themselves to a life of austerity and prayer. During those days the people would go to mass in monasteries and would seek the counsel of monks, sisters and Hermits dedicated to living the Christian life. In the middle Ages as the Great monarchies of Europe emerged so too did the new understanding of the church’s hierarchical nature develop. The Crusades further developed this understanding and the church came to be known as soldiers of Christ. What I am trying to say is that each separate time in history had its own problems and solutions. The church as an institution did not exist in some other universe or reality it existed and exists in time as a part of those same problems and solutions in history. If we do not acknowledge and accept that we run the risk of becoming an institution that cannot speak to the real world as it is today. Pope Francis has opened the doors and windows of the church to and has called us to be the church of the 21st century. It is a daunting task, but it is as necessary as the task of the Apostles , or the founders of the monastic orders, or the bishops and popes. We must resolve to live our faith in our world today. This is a resolution that demands that we seek the Lord during all of our days and in each of our tasks, no matter how menial it may seem. I pray for all of us to succeed in this resolution.
Peace and God Bless,