I have a question for you, surfers. Why did the people, the Church, in the time of Jesus not believe the words of John the Baptist? We are told by the Evangelists that they did not believe him. If John the Baptist were here today and spoke to the Church what would our reaction be? We are the Church and the Evangelists tell us the future is up to us to decide. Could we recognize John the Baptist if he were speaking to us today?
I have long held the belief that the Parables were stories meant to make us feel uncomfortable. If you read a parable and you don’t feel discomfort, you are reading it but not understanding it. The Parable is meant to shake us awake. Here is a perfect example:
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
“What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’
He said in reply, ‘I will not, ‘
but afterwards changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir, ‘but did not go.
Which of the two did his father’s will?”
They answered, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him.”
How did this Parable make you feel? Did it shake you awake? The future of Christianity depends on you. The Evangelists warn us all that if we fail to believe in John the Baptist others, who we thought were destined for eternal fires, are actually getting into heaven before us. Who are those people we think are destined for eternal fires today?
Who is our John the Baptist? Who is coming to us in the way of righteousness today? The Evangelists tell us to pay close attention to those people we feel certain are destined for eternal fires. Who are those people listening to, that we have summarily dismissed?
In the world of Christian scholarship, for example, to read the Bible literally is regarded as absurd. To call the words of the Bible “the Word of God” is more than naïve. No modern person can still believe that a star can wander through the sky so slowly that wise men can keep up with it, that God actually dictated the Ten Commandments — all three versions, no less — or that a multitude can be fed with five loaves and two fish. No modern person understanding genetics and reproduction can believe that virgins conceive, nor can those who understand what death does to the human body in a matter of just minutes still view the resurrection as the resuscitation of a deceased body after three days. Biblical scholars know that the accounts of the crucifixion read in Christian churches on Good Friday are not eye witness reports, but developed interpretations of Jesus’ death based on a series of Old Testament texts selected to convince fellow Jews that Jesus “fulfilled the scriptures” and thus really was the “messiah.” These issues and many others are assumed in the world of biblical scholars, but are viewed by many church-goers, together with the vast majority of television evangelists and radio preachers, as attacks on divine revelation that must be resisted in order to save Christianity. They thus, knowingly or unknowingly, join in a conspiracy of silence, ignoring truth when they feel they can and viewing biblical scholars, strangely enough, as the church’s ultimate enemy.
– John Shelby Spong – Retired American Bishop of the Episcopal Church
How do the words of Bishop Spong make you feel? Do you feel that biblical scholars are your enemy? The future of Christianity depends on the Church connecting the dots. You need to connect the dots, because others are getting into heaven before you.
What is the Church to do? How do you get the words of today’s John the Baptist? How do you know if you are listening to the words of today’s John the Baptist? Where do you turn? What does the Catholic hierarchy have to say about getting information today and in the future?
Social media has a place in the 21st century church, though some oldsters may have to be drawn into it, collars, veils, rosaries and lapel crosses askew. Facebook, Twitter and other social media can be worthy instruments of the Gospel to nurture our faith life, though some are just warming up.
– SR. MARY ANN WALSH
The fact that you are reading this blog shows that you are warm on technology. Based on this you may decide to stay in contact with the Church hierarchy through their social media presence. Just remember that the Church hierarchy did not believe John the Baptist in Jesus’ time, and may not be be the best source for John the Baptist in our time. The Catholic hierarchy is working on a plan for the future of the Catholic Church. You are the Church, so these are plans for your future. It is called the “New Evangelization.”
“we want to reinforce that evangelisation is the very mission of the Church and it has been going on for over two thousand years, but it needs to find a new language, a new lifestyle one that is respectful but has a deeply rooted identity”, evangelisers “who have a profound sense of belonging to the Church and the Christian community but at the same time who are open to others. And also a good dose of joy and enthusiasm, which is never a bad thing!”
Archbishop Fisichella: New evangelisation needs “joyful” evangelizers
It appears the “New Evangelization” program has not been fully developed. What might it include; tax collectors and prostitutes? That was sarcasm, I know the Catholic hierarchy does not subscribe to the message of today’s John the Baptist. They do, however, begin the program on a strong note.
On 29 September the theme of reflection for the next World Day of Social Communications was announced: “Silence and Word: path of evangelisation”… While we inquire how to give wings to the “new evangelisation” and its messages, we should not forget that their efficacy arises from listening. Their foundation is silence, full of the reality of the life of God.
– Federico Lombardi – Wondrous silence
The Holy Spirit can guide you to today’s John the Baptist. Listening is vital. Silence can help us discern if the message from our social media and other sources are correct for us. The future of Christianity is in our hands. We lead the charge, and the first step is to find our John the Baptist. Remember, look for the John the Baptist of today by beginning with that person whose message you have chosen not to believe. Those people that you feel are destined for the eternal fires are likely to be getting into heaven before you.