Is the Catholic Church institutionally overweight?
A reflection on the Gospel reading from this morning’s Mass: “Take nothing for the journey; no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.” With those instructions—not to mention to drive out demons and cure diseases—the Lord sent the Apostles out “to preach the kingdom of God and to heal.” Their successors have the same job description today.
Now consult your local diocesan directory, or your parish bulletin, or the USCCB web site, or even the Vatican’s Annuario, and ask yourself which of these things is more essential than a staff, a bag, or a spare tunic:
- the Office of Liturgy
- the parish Young Adults ministry
- the Gentlemen of His Holiness
- the Labor Guild
- the Multicultural Catechetical Congress
- the Office of Strategic Planning
- the Office of Lifelong Formation
- the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization
- the parish Social Justice committee
- the dicastery for Integral Human Development
- the Catholic Campaign for Human Development
You might be able to make a plausible argument for the existence of any one of these programs (good luck defending the Catholic Campaign for Human Development). But when Jesus told his disciples not to take bags or money (no second collections!) or spare clothes, He was clearly making a point. Let’s take another careful look at all those programs, and thousand of other initiatives, in light of that point.
Because we, as a Church, haven’t been doing a very good job of preaching the kingdom and healing in our society recently. So maybe, rather than insisting on what we think is essential to that mission, we should take the Lord’s instructions more seriously.
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