When I preach to you, I have been trying to always let you see the historical context of the readings as well as try to explain what they mean. I have tried to bring you truths about the Gospels that have sometimes in the past been ignored because there was fear that if people knew these things they would lose faith. It seems to me that one of the greatest problems of fundamentalism today is the devotion to the literal word of the Bible . The Catholic church teaches and has always taught that the Bible is inspired, and I have come to believe it is, but not as literal truth. What is inspired for me is the whole direction or movement or ”˜way’ of Christ that is described to us, stripped of its historical prejudices and the psychological quirks of the men who wrote it. At the very core of Scripture there is truth and beauty and God’s inspiration that allowed these people to put down their developing thought. I do think it is unfortunate that we have frozen these early writings as inspired and that many beautiful writings from Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas are not considered so. It makes me feel that after a certain date in time, we are led to believe that there is nothing more that God wanted to say. And yet I believe he speaks to us every day in very many voices and ways.
So yes, many of the sayings of Christ are hard! But I don’t think you will find any of them that devalue the human person, that denigrate whole races of people, that tell women to be subject to men, that threaten all sinners with hell. No! Jesus’ words in Scripture do the opposite. The prodigal son is welcomed by the Father, the Gentiles are accepted and even praised, women are treated with respect and kindness, sinners are told that they can be saved. Most of the culturally difficult verses are found in the Epistles, not the Gospels where the early church was trying to understand what Jesus words and his death and resurrection all meant. And they did that through the lenses available to them in their own time. Fr. Mike in my discussion with him of faith and doubt told me this: Theology is called : faith seeking understanding ”but faith which comes first in that formula, is a matter of the heart.” The heart has its reasons of which the mind knows not.” I think our heads often trip us up.” As a congregation we need to first listen to our hearts, then be open to discussing, questioning, and letting our doubts out so that we will not be like those who had to leave Jesus and return to their former ways, but instead answer with Peter: Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God!
And this is the disturbing but Good news I bring you today.
Before you click please guess his denomination, then go and read it all.