|Ghent Altarpiece, detail|
Reading Vox Cantoris' latest post
this morning, my small, dim eyes focused on one small line. For context, Vox is speaking about the effect of the Pope's words on other souls:
The man does not edify, build-up or bring peace.
This short sentence reminded me of two passages from the Epistles about building up the Body of Christ. The first comes from Col. 3:12-17:
You are God's chosen people, holy and well-beloved; the livery you wear must be tender compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; you must bear with one another's faults, be generous to each other; where somebody has given grounds for complaint, the Lord's generosity to you must be the model for yours. And, to crown all of this, charity; that is the bond which makes us perfect. So may the peace of Christ, the very condition of your calling as members of a single body, reign in your hearts. Learn, too, to be grateful. May all the wealth of Christ's inspiration have its shrine among you; now you will have instruction and advice for one another, full of wisdom, now there will be psalms, and hymns, and spiritual music, as you sing with gratitude in your hearts for God. Whatever you are about, in word and action alike, invoke always the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, offering your thanks to God the Father through him. (R. Knox Version)
The second comes from 1 Peter 4:7-11:
The end of all things is close at hand; live wisely and keep yourselves awake to keep the hours of prayer, Above all things, preserve constant charity among yourselves; charity draws the veil over a multitude of sins. Make one another free of what is yours ungrudgingly, sharing with all whatever gift each of you has received, as befits the stewards of a God so rich in graces. One of you preaches, let him remember it is God's message he is uttering; another distributes relief, let him remember that it is God who supplies him the opportunity; that so, in all you do, God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to him be the glory and the power through endless ages, Amen. (R. Knox Version)
These passages are rich in meaning and it would be foolish of me to try and extract all of what is said. Suffice it to say, I leave the present reader with two observations.
The first is this. Spiritual writers such as Thomas a Kempis remark that our actions are constantly observed by others, be it in a public or a private setting. We observe others' behavior, seeing it as either right or wrong. What we say or do, too, has an effect on others we aren't always mindful of. While I caution fretting about others' opinions of us or how we come across to them, as it is a distraction, this subject is worthy of meditation. What observations can we derive from the Pope's public actions, as well as our own, and how can we use them to build up the body of Christ through our own actions?
The second observation is this. I have come to understand that the Pope's actions and behaviors - as well as those of other people in the Church - have driven many souls out of Holy Mother Church, into Orthodoxy or other churches. These same souls seem to convey the impression that a bad Pope equals a bad Church, or at least that the Church is irreversibly corrupt. (Impressions I am not alien to, myself.) What fruits can we derive from these Scripture passages, the Pope's actions, and our own meditations? How can we use these fruits to edify, build up the Body of Christ, and bring the peace of Christ to these souls outside of the Church in such a way that these impressions are no longer at the forefront of their minds?
May the Hearts of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph encompass you all.