In our connected world, we don’t have to look far to be seduced by the ideas, thoughts and prejudices of others. Christ tells us how to recognise false, destructive messaging: You will know false prophets by what they do. (Matthew 7:16). Today, in Luke, we find a concrete example of how the goodness of God can be twisted by the thought processes of others into works of darkness. Christ’s loving acts of healing become works of the devil, for those who resent his comments about excessive rigidity in observance of the law. He tells us that, when the Law becomes an end in itself, more important than the love and mercy of God, then such a kingdom is divisive and will collapse.
Over time, human structures, become out of date, no longer fit for purpose and sometimes, downright toxic. This is true, even for our most revered institutions. The Catholic Church, source of so much good (and sadly, its share of harm), is currently reviewing how its own laws and practices measure up against the call of the Gospel, two millennia since Christ walked on earth. There are concerns that power battles in the current Synod, between conservatives and reformists will generate more heat than light and cement division, rather than promote unity. (A kingdom divided against itself….)
So let’s pray that the God of love, compassion, healing and inclusiveness, will be front and centre in the Synod’s deliberations. And let’s hope that participants will look both inwardly and outwardly towards the margins, to where Christ is to be found today.
Brian Norman has been associated with the Passionists in various ways since he was three weeks old when he squared off with Fr Placid Millay CP over the baptismal font at St Brigid’s, Marrickville.