Filled with Faith, Hope, and Love
Best, I think, to begin with the words of St. Paul this Sunday:
…whatever is true…honorable… just…pure…lovely…gracious, if there is any excellence…anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Yes, first off think about this list that St. Paul has set before his listeners because they are filled with faith, hope, and love. In the recipe for recovery, restoration, and healing (whether needed here or in a world shattered) these are the needed ingredients; not one of these ingredients may be left out. What else besides truth and honesty, justice and honor, love and purity of heart would heal a broken family or, for that matter, restore the impoverished, feed the hungry, or bring freedom to the oppressed of this world? You can bet that Pope Francis and the bishops gathering for the beginning of the SYNOD ON THE FAMILY are counting on these very teachings of St. Paul to guide them in developing the Church’s pastoral ministry.
Paul’s words are spoken against the backdrop of his fellow Jews seeking restoration and reunification as a chosen people, while his fellow Roman citizens are seeking a meaning and purpose for their existence beyond the rule of an all too human Caesar. It is not dissimilar to the backdrop of the “disappointing vineyard and the outrageously greedy vineyard tenants” spoken of in the first reading and the gospel for today. Their ultimate blindness to God’s will for them results in killing the son of the landowner; it is not much of a stretch then to understand how our own blindness can pave the way to crucifying the body of Christ, the Son whom the Father sends to us, all over again.
Saint Paul’s words to the first Christians and to us serve as a remedy for spiritual blindness: “…in everything,” he goes on to say, “by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Paul was always bringing those first Christian communities back to Jesus’ message and mission. Let us keep the Church in our prayers as Pope Francis and the bishops of the Synod On The Family gather to once again do what the apostles did and have done since the first Pentecost—return us to the heart of Christ.