MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on Fletcher’s Upside Down Pyramid, huh? Who is responsible for evangelization and who are the Seventy? Listen to this podcast of his reflection on the readings for the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Please read Luke 10:1-11, 16-20. #GreatPreaching #Furrow #Luke10 #ServantLeader #Sermons #Homilies
MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 7/7/2013 The 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 10:1-12; 17-20.
In the July 2013 edition of the Diocese of Joliet Magazine, Christ Our Hope, Dr. Christine Fletcher of Benedictine University writes about a vision of the Church that she received that looked like an upside down pyramid. The people of the Church, en masse were at the top of the pyramid with the largest job of all: evangelization. The priests, religious and deacons are next followed by the Pope at the tip as the “servant of the servants of God”.
Dr. Fletcher is blunt when she says, “I have maintained a “Chinese Wall” that Goldman Sachs would be proud of in separating my faith and my life.” In particular, goes on Dr. Fletcher, “I must see that my work, both paid and in the family, is my primary Christian responsibility. We call this in the world of Spiritual Direction, being fully integrated with your faith.
Many times, as Christians, I have seen no difference in the reluctance to evangelize by Catholics as I saw while I was a mainline protestant. Both are reluctant to serve. Having a servant leader can leave all Christians with a profound sense of largesse and luxury. We are in the big boat of salvation, it seems, so why must we be actively out there living our life for God through our work and our family, as Dr. Fletcher points out. We have too have built Fletcher’s “Chinese Wall” between our faith and our life.
The passage from the Gospel of Luke, this day, flies in the face of this notion. Jesus selected seventy to get out of the boat of the Church and walk the road of salvation to villages and towns. They were called by God to go and stay in villages, getting to know the people and become an integral part of the community while they were there. While they were there, they were called to do three things:
1. Eat what was given to them. In other words, do not build dietary barriers between yourself and the people because the purpose of every meal in the Gospel of Luke is community. If you want a student to show up at an event at Benedictine University, then you should have food there. When there is food, there is usually loud, laughing conversation. As Christians, especially Catholics who share the meal of the Lord’s body, we should always share in community. As Thomas Merton said, “Humans are not solitary, they are only truly themselves when they are in the relationship of community.”
2. Heal the sick: This is more than just being delighted, like the seventy were, that they were able to chase out demons in the Lord’s name. It is a commitment to the physical well-being of all those who are in our community. It is not enough to go to the village or town and reside there in a place, but you wish the place “Peace.” You want the Peace of Christ to rest there. As we learn from the Book of James, it means nothing to wish someone well in the Spirit and leave them hungry. Being a sacramental people who believes God works through the physical, we know that spirit and physical go together.
3. Announce the kingdom: In the United States of America, there is this frustrating attachment to the unverified quote of Saint Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times and sometimes use words.” I have banned that saying from our ministry staff and office in our context because all too often we do a good deed, but do not let people know that we are doing it because Christ first loved us. Just as it is not enough to give a spiritual blessing without caring for the body, it is being bankrupt in our duties as a part of the largest part of Fletcher’s Pyramid if we only “sometimes use words.” Do we believe that a blessing is less important than a loaf of bread? Do we believe that providing for the body is necessary all the time, but it is only sometimes necessary to invite people on the road of salvation to the boat of the Church in the harbor? Aren’t there passages in the Bible that state that we are to be more concerned with storing up our treasure in heaven? Why would we not encourage others to do the same?
Creating Community, caring for physical needs and announcing the kingdom of God is a time honored and excellent method of evangelization. We can create community by bringing coffee or a treat to the office with us just because. We can ask co-workers how they are doing and how their families are doing, remembering to follow up to show we care. When someone says we are so nice, we can simply say, “Well, God is nice to me.”
As I said last week, we are people who took scrolls, cut them into pieces and made what the world now calls a “book.” There are millions of ways that we can take this model of evangelization to our work and our home. Yet, what is key to all of this is that there was a community of believers, at least seventy, who believed in the power of God to create community, heal and grant salvation in heaven.
In ministering to the famous “none” generation on a college campus, the one thing that I know wins the day is not expert knowledge of theology. It is not a degree behind my name. It is not a nice suit and food for the crowd. The thing that carries the day is integrity and sincerity of faith. We can create community, we can provide for the needs of the body, and we can announce the kingdom, but if we don’t believe it and live it, no one will care.
In the Book “The Awakening of Hope: Why We Practice a Common Faith”, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove writes, “Over the past few decades, much of the energy of the Christian Church has gone toward “evangelism”…we have not spent as much energy on formation and discipleship. So, we find ourselves in an age of shallow spirituality, where much of our Christianity is a mile wide and an inch deep.” (p.9). He writes this as the forerunner of the case for evangelical protestant communities of faith practicing their faith like modern monasteries with common prayer, common work, common mission and common practice.
Hartgrove is saying that you have to have both: proclamation of the kingdom and living the faith deeply and actively to spread the word.
So, take stock of your faith life. Have you built a Chinese Wall between your faith and your life? Have you compartmentalized your faith and proclamation from your good deeds to serve God? Think of how you will change that and start changing that today. Amen? Amen.
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