Staying innocent of blood
Have you noticed how often the readings at Mass address the very questions that are troubling Catholics at the time? Call it coincidence, if you believe in coincidences.
This morning, for example, we heard St. Paul’s farewell to the Church at Ephesus: “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”
Strong words, aren’t they? And who would deny that there are “fierce wolves” among us today? But look back just a few lines in that passage from Acts 20, and see more strong language from St. Paul:
Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.
The implication is clear: If St. Paul had shrunk from his mission to proclaim the Gospel message in its fulness, he would not be innocent of Ephesian blood.
Now what does that admonition mean today, to the pastor who skirts controversial issues? To the bishop who does not rebuke public sinners?
Pope Pius X reportedly wept when he was elected Supreme Pontiff, out of fear that he would now be held responsible for the fate of every soul on earth. That deep sense of pastoral responsibility confirms that he was the right choice for Peter’s Throne—and explains why we now know him as Saint Pius X.
And by the way, today we celebrate the memory of St. Justin the Martyr, who certainly did not shrink from proclaiming the whole counsel of God. Enjoy the feast!
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