|10/5/2017 9:00:00 AM|
WORD OF FAITH
Practice 'affirmative orthodoxy'
BY REV. JOHN P. CUSHFROM A READING FOR OCT. 8, 27TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
'Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone'?"...' -- Mt 21:42
St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Philippians (Phil 4:6-9), writes eloquently: "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you."
Our world today is so complex, so seemingly divided -- and, sadly, this can also seem to be the state of our Church. The Church, as the people of God, as the mystical body of Christ, has the answer: new life in Christ Jesus.
Jesus is a God who loves us enough to be born for us; who loves us enough to suffer and die for us; who loves us enough to rise again for us, offering us new and eternal life.
How best can we as a Church communicate that message to a world that doesn't seem to want to hear it? It can seem like the secular culture is like the tenants who refuse to respect the vineyard's owner's son in Sunday's Gospel (Mt 21:33-43).
How can we help the tenants -- which include ourselves, more often than not -- from meeting a wicked end and becoming ruined, like the vineyard in the first reading (Is 5:1-7)? Perhaps the way is best called "affirmative orthodoxy."
Catholic columnist John Allen, editor of www.cruxnow.org and a former correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter newspaper, describes the attitude that Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York exhibits as "affirmative orthodoxy." Simply put, that means being faithful to the teachings of the Church, but presenting them in a positive way.
Cardinal Dolan, in a recent interview, stated: "The Church is constantly saying, 'Yes, yes, yes,' to everything that is liberating, true, genuine, in the human condition. So, we are saying, 'Yes to eternal love;' 'Yes to new life;' we're saying, 'Yes to the sexual expression of love between a man and woman in lifelong, faithful, life-giving marriage.'
"We are saying, 'Yes to the very poetry that the relationship of a man and women in the sacrament of marriage that actually reflects the love that God has for us.' We're saying, 'Yes to the idea that a family is the closest we come in this life to the blessed Trinity.' And that's where we're saying yes, too. We only say, 'No,' to something that might negate that. And a no to a no is a yes.
"So, I guess if you ask you what is my greatest pastoral challenge, I guess it would be how to recapture the extraordinarily affirming, healing, compassionate invitation and nature of the Church's teaching."
The Church is a "yes" -- always a "yes" -- to everyone and everything that is good and holy and pure, and to that which is striving to be good, holy and pure. One of the main ideas of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is journeying: meeting people where they are and bringing them to where they should be.
Let's remember this lesson as we go forth on our Christian journey. May affirmative orthodoxy always prevail in our vineyard, in the vineyard of the world and in the fruitful vineyard of the Church.
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