The opening prayer of today’s Mass is lovely. It asks of our “Merciful God that, unhindered in mind and body alike, we may follow in freedom of heart the things that are yours”.
Paul’s letter to Titus is known as one of the “Pastoral Letters”1: 1-9 They take us to the earliest days of the church as it spreads beyond Jerusalem into the Mediterranean and so to the rest of the world. The letters are written to the early “pastors” who helped to give shape to the church as the “Body of Christ”. Paul writes to Titus on the large island of Crete, an island in the Mediterranean. Paul wants Titus to understand that the Spirit of God will help the small community of faith to find the way to lead and shape its life in a changing world. Paul in this letter, explains to Titus why he is left on Crete, an island that Paul had not visited. It was “so you could get everything organised there and appoint elders (“bishops”) in every town. Along with Paul and the others, Titus is given the task of helping the tiny communities of faith to shape their lives from the gospel.
Next the passage from St. Luke shows us one of the building blocks if the church is to succeed. Forgiveness will be an essential part of our way ahead. We must always be a community of faith and we must also always, always, always be a community of forgiveness. Jesus tells us that we must learn to love and to forgive and to never lose our ability to believe in the best in each other, no matter how many times we let each other down. And it always depends on FAITH – which is another word for trust that the Spirit of God is always in our lives and our community.
So today, God’s word draws together two important bits of our lives. We need to give real shape to our lives so that people can learn to believe in us. But we must also remember that love and forgiveness and respect for every member of the Body of Christ is the heart of our lives together.
Jesus says: Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you. So faith, forgiveness and hope are the necessary foundations of our growth as the church which is the body of Christ on our earth.
Fr. Kevin Dance CP is the vicar of the St.Brigid’s Retreat, Marrickville. He is very actively involved in ministries locally and at Passionist International where he served as the Executive Director for many years.