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September 11, 2018 - Called by the Healer

Tuesday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Judging from Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, things were not going well among the brothers and sisters there. All churches have their disputes and divisions, but the brothers and sisters in Corinth had taken that to another level. They were suing one another in court. Paul is not pleased, and he lets them know it. He calls their behavior a failure. They have forgotten who they are, but he has not. He knows they were once people who engaged in vices of all sorts. They had been cleansed by baptism, but now they had lost their way.

Paul’s letter reminds me of a church community that I was part of years ago. It was a Mennonite church (in the Anabaptist tradition—cousins to the Amish) in the city of Pittsburgh, and it had hired a progressive pastor who, over the course of a few years, was moving the church toward becoming an open and welcoming church to members of the LGBT community. Lots of folks (especially younger folks) in the church fully supported the pastor in his vision, but many long-time members did not. Eventually, those long-time members made things so difficult for the pastor that one Sunday morning instead of giving a sermon he announced his resignation. The church split after that. It was incredibly painful for everyone.

If we are going to be church together, if we are going to acknowledge (as Paul calls us to do later in his letter) that we are different from one another in ways that matter, and if we are going to face the fact that we are human beings (quite capable of becoming certain that we have the truth and that those opposed must be defeated), then we must know that we are going to have our divisions. And those divisions can get rather ugly as they did in the early church and as they did in that small church in Pittsburgh.

These days, there’s no shortage of opportunities for disputes and divisions in the church whether we are talking about the local parish, the Catholic Church in America, or the global Church. We live in a time in which our differences, or apparent differences, have the potential to tear us apart from one another at any moment.

In these days, may we remember who we are. Like the Twelve who Jesus called, we too are called to follow him who has the power to heal all and cure all. May we trust in him and his power to heal. And may we dare to love one another no matter our differences, divisions, or disputes. May we remain the body of Christ.