November 22, 2009
We Must Choose, So Choose Wisely
Thoughts on the Second Readings by Joe Frankenfield
The Feast of Christ the King
Christians in the late first century faced persecution from Roman authority. To keep their hopes alive they gleaned snippets from the story of Jesus’ life creating a narrative of him as a harsh and bellicose protector wreaking vengeance on their enemies. The Galilean teacher who instructed his followers to love their enemies was far from their thoughts. Jesus restoring the severed ear of the servant who accompanied the soldiers sent to arrest him was no model for their savior. It strains the imagination to picture the narrator of Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount comfortably reading the description of Christ the avenger in The Book of Revelation.
There’s no fool-proof defense against the pitfalls of being what’s known disparagingly as a Cafeteria Catholic. We all must choose from a multitude of dishes. Many are willing, both officially and unofficially, to tell us what belongs on our plates. A close look, however, reveals that they often simply recommend their own tastes.
Since picking and choosing from both scripture and ongoing teachings of our Tradition, is unavoidable, how can we best go about it? Here are some thoughts for us all:
First, acknowledge that winnowing is inevitable and take responsibility for our choices.
Second, choose with an eye toward living the way of Jesus as totally as we can imagine.
Finally, choose within the context of the Church’s entire wisdom. This doesn’t mean listening to those in the church with whom we agree from the onset. Unless we’re positive that we have all wisdom, all honesty, all knowledge and all sinlessness, we need to pay close attention to those who strongly disagree with our assumptions. Alas!
There are those who find this process loathsome. Answers, they maintain, should come from on high clearly stamped with divine approval. To that we can all say. If only . . . .