It has been reported to me ..... that there are rivalries among you. ( 1 Cor. 1:11 ) |

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It has been reported to me ..... that there are rivalries among you. ( 1 Cor. 1:11 )

刊登日期: 2014.01.26
作者: Fr. Thomas Au 區耀邦神父  

T h i s i s f r o m t h i s Sunday’s second reading. It is interesting that people often thought romantically about the early Church. The fact is that it was a time of difficulties, from outside the Church and from within. The Church suffered two hundred years of persecution by the Jewish leaders as heretics and by the Romans as superstition compared to their religion. From within the Church, they had to settle theological issues on who Jesus was as well as new practices based on the theological convictions. We can read of these in the Acts of the Apostles and the letters of the apostles. It is not until the emperor Constantine becoming Christian and allowing the Church to practice the faith openly do we see the Church growing and establishing stable communities throughout the Roman world.


So it should not surprise us to see and hear differences in sentiments regarding the leadership of our popes and bishops. It should even be less surprising to find non-Catholics commenting on Church positions solely from their points of view.
Since the election of Pope Francis, there have been numerous commentaries on his positions on a variety of topics, based solely on misreading his words and wishful thinking because of his “different” style of leadership. Some find him refreshing in his “personal” approach lifestyle while others find him too relaxed compared to Pope Benedict. Mamma mia! You may as well say that Cantonese is uncultured compared to the literary formality of Mandarin. Yet our society places so much attention on personality traits.
When it comes to matters of faith and morals, it is important for us to keep our emotions and sentiments on alert. No one would evaluate the competency of a brain surgeon by the kind of clothes he wears or the car he drives. But yet, when it comes to religious matters, people often go with what appears pleasant or what gives them warm fuzzies.
In my religion class, we have been covering the first Commandment dealing with the theological virtues of faith, hope and love. Many of my young students struggle with their feelings in these areas. They often mistake the lack of emotions as having lack of faith or love of Jesus. In my younger years I felt very inadequate when I heard people exclaiming how they deeply believe in Jesus or love Jesus. Now, I don’t feel so threatened. Mother Teresa expressed her lack of sense of presence of God. And it is in that depth of longing that she expressed and lived her faith. In fact, it is in the lack of consolation that we make the act of faith, hope and love.
Another area of struggle is that of doubt. My students think that since they do not have 1) convincing and conclusive “proof” or 2) a feeling of confidence, then their doubt is “proof” that they do not have faith. My answer to them is that “doubt” is essential to faith. Every act of faith is dependent on some level of doubt. One good example of this faith is in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” where Indy had to take a “leap of faith”. He had to follow the clue given him and make a giant step into a seeming chasm that was a certain death only to find a formerly undetectable bridge.
We as Catholics have trust in Pope Francis not because of his style, but because we believe that it is the Holy Spirit who has chosen him to lead us.



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