Why a Lutheran Pastor Would Quote the Catholic Pope about the Church’s Mission…


Featured imageDevotional Thought of the Day –

For God’s Kingdom is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of the righteousness, peace, and joy which the Holy Spirit gives.  And when you serve Christ in this way, you please God and are approved by others.   Romans 14:17-18 (TEV)

 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw a man who was driving out demons in your name, and we told him to stop, because he doesn’t belong to our group.”  “Do not try to stop him,” Jesus told them, “because no one who performs a miracle in my name will be able soon afterward to say evil things about me.  For whoever is not against us is for us.  Mark 9:38-40 (TEV)

 Of course some of them preach Christ because they are jealous and quarrelsome, but others from genuine good will.  These do so from love, because they know that God has given me the work of defending the gospel.  The others do not proclaim Christ sincerely, but from a spirit of selfish ambition; they think that they will make more trouble for me while I am in prison.  It does not matter! I am happy about it—just so Christ is preached in every way possible, whether from wrong or right motives. And I will continue to be happy,  because I know that by means of your prayers and the help which comes from the Spirit of Jesus Christ I shall be set free.    Philippians 1:15-19 (TEV)

“The Church, the holy People of God, treads the dust-laden paths of history, so often traversed by conflict, injustice and violence, in order to encounter her children, our brothers and sisters. The holy and faithful People of God are not afraid of losing their way; they are afraid of becoming self-enclosed, frozen into élites, clinging to their own security. They know that self-enclosure, in all the many forms it takes, is the cause of so much apathy.

So let us go out, let us go forth to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ (Evangelii Gaudium, 49). The People of God can embrace everyone because we are the disciples of the One who knelt before his own to wash their feet (ibid., 24) ” (1)

If you haven’t heard, Pope Francis is visiting the USA.  In green, you see one of my favorite quotes from him, one that hasn’t been pushed much on Twitter, or quoted on FB.   It is both this lack of attention AND the truth of it, that makes it possibly my favorite quote of his.

Some people are excited, some people are worried, some people are mad, and want everyone to know that the visit of the one they think is “the” anti-christ, in combination with a harvest moon, in combination with the green stuff growing in their refrigerator resembling the hairstyle of a prominent presidential candidate means the means to the end is near.

I do think it providential though, that the gospel reading this week contains the middle quote from scripture. The one that has Jesus crying out, “do not try to stop him!”

Let me start out with this,  According to the doctrines of the Catholic Church, some of what I preach is anathema.  And likewise, some, repeat, some of the things that are doctrines the are to hold to are heterodox and even heretical.  One could do several Ph.D. thesis outlining these things.   And several more outlining the things upon which we agree. Those need to be discussed not hidden.

But therein is the rub.  To dismiss each other entirely it is to dismiss where we agree as if it were as false.  For example, the truths found in the three Creeds.  Or the promises that God is faithful to the promises He makes to us, including the promises attached to the proclaiming of the Gospel, the promises attached to Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the forgiveness given us in Confession.  We can never dismiss each other entirely, because the core of our creed, we share in common.  We share a hope found in Christ Jesus.  For me to presumptuously say everything the Roman Catholic Church teaches is wrong is to dismiss the Christ in whom I find hope, and the mission, the apostolic mission given to the Church.

With this particular Pope, Pope Francis, what resonates of his message is what is found in 1 Peter, that God doesn’t desire any person to be lost, but that all would come to repentance, that all would be reconciled, that all would know the love of God, and the mercy poured out on us because of the death of Jesus Christ, and His resurrection.

That message of his won’t make the evening news often, nor will it make the conservative or liberal blogospheres in either of our church bodies. That won’t get attention, because it won’t cause hits to come in large numbers.  Controversy does that.  It draws us in; it creates elitists, groups that will become, as Francis points out – apathetic.  They will become apathetic to the real ministry, to the real mission, to the real apostolate. Their focus will go from that to their own personal crusade, and the Missio Dei will become a distant memory for them.  Not for all, for God has promised that as well.   That Missio Dei is our mission,  the reason we are sent to this world, which is the reason Christ was sent,

as Francis says,

“to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ.”

May we bring that life to all,

A life in which Jesus guards our hearts and our minds, a life of peace the world cannot give, a life of incomparable peace which the Father in Heaven desires to share with us. The peace that is the answer to our prayer,

Lord have mercy on us sinners… AMEN!

(1)  From the Homily given by Pope Francis on 9/24 found here http://opusdei.us/en-us/article/canonization-of-junipero-serra/

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on September 25, 2015, in Augsburg and Trent, Devotions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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