Sunday, May 24, 2015

We are Many, We are One

One my favorite bits from the Bible is in this morning's readings:
"...We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

"Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome,

"both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.' "
(Acts 2:9-11)
That was about two thousand years ago.

Some things have changed.

Phrygia's land became part of Rome's holdings about a century after the "tongues as of fire" appeared.

Since then it's been in the Byzantine, Seljuk, and Ottoman Empires. These days, it's part of Turkey: and someone else will probably be running it two millennia from now.

Rome is still a major city, but the last Roman Emperor died more than a dozen centuries back. My ancestors come from lands beyond the old Roman frontier.

I speak English, a West Germanic language that wouldn't settle into something like its current form until around Shakespeare's day.

Some things haven't changed, and won't.

I've talked about natural law, ethical principles built into the universe, before. It doesn't change. Positive law, rules we make to help us live in comparative harmony, can and sometimes must change: and that's another topic. (August 31, 2014; August 29, 2014)

Something else that won't change is the best news humanity's ever had: God loves us, and wants to adopt us. (John 3:17; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 52, 1825)

What we do about that news is up to each of us. In my case, I decided that becoming a Catholic made sense.

Love and Blunders

The Shavout recalled in Acts 2 was our 'grand opening' — when the Holy Spirit came, making our Lord's message available to anyone who would listen.1 (Catechism, 731-732, 767)

Today, Catholics live on every continent except Antarctica. We speak Albanian, Brazilian, Japanese, Lebanese, and many other languages.

We worship in Kobe, Japan; Hannover, Germany; Westfield, Indiana; and Kunming, China.

We have lived under emperors, kings, chairmen, and presidents. Sometimes our native leaders let us worship in peace, sometimes they don't, and occasionally they try to take our Lord's place.

We are "one in Christ Jesus," united by the sacraments our Lord gave us: Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. We celebrate those sacraments in many ways, reflecting our many cultures. (Catechism, 1200-1206, 1210)

That upsets folks who imagine that the universal, καθολικός, church should — for all people, in every millennium — look and act just like folks did in their home parish, a few decades back.

Some of us, as centuries rolled by, have acted as if making "disciples of all nations" meant forcing one culture or political system down everyone's throat. That's a huge mistake. We're still cleaning up the mess left by the Verdun massacre, and that's yet another topic. (May 18, 2014)

There is no one 'correct' culture or political system. (Catechism, 24, 814, 1901, 1957)

There are, however, a few basic principles we should all observe: Love God, love our neighbors, see everyone as our neighbor, and treat others as we'd like to be treated. (Matthew 5:43-44, 7:12, 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31 10:25-27, 29-37; Catechism, 1789)

As long as we keep loving God and our neighbors, and acting as if everybody's our neighbor, we'll confuse and astound2 — and upset folks who like the status quo. And that's yet again another topic.

Posts about:

1 Definitions:
"HOLY SPIRIT: The third divine Person of the Blessed Trinity, the personal love of Father and Son for each other. Also called the Paraclete (Advocate) and Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit is at work with the Father and the Son from the beginning to the completion of the divine plan for our salvation (685; cf. 152, 243)."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, Glossary, H)

"PENTECOST: The 'fiftieth' day at the end of the seven weeks following Passover (Easter in the Christian dispensation). At the first Pentecost after the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus, the Holy Spirit was manifested, given and communicated as a divine Person to the Church, fulfilling the paschal mystery of Christ according to his promise (726, 731; cf. 1287). Annually the Church celebrates the memory of the Pentecost event as the beginning of the new 'age of the Church,' when Christ lives and acts in and with his Church (1076)."
(Catechism, Glossary, P)
2 "...the Church astounds and confuses...."
"...Pentecost is the event that signals the birth of the Church and her public manifestation; and two features strike us: the Church astounds and confuses...."
Regina Caeli," Pope Francis, Solemnity of Pentecost (June 8, 2014)

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.