For the past many days, St. Augustine has been the author of the second reading from the Office of Readings. He wrote of the pastors of the Church who tend only their own interests and not those of the flock entrusted to them, and the account they will have to render for the shepherding.
These are words so eloquently written that any of us called to leadership in the Church need to pay close attention. They apply to us directly.
It is always difficult to tease out how much of what we do as ministers of the Church is truly devoid of self-interest and how much is not. Being human, it always seems to be bit of both. But I suspect that is why we need to take to heart St. Augustine’s admonitions here. Fruitful ministry is the result of God’s work, not ours. He uses us for his designs. Our presence and cooperation is necessary, but He makes what we do effective. God’s love is not dependent on our earning it or our efforts to express it, yet He chooses to use us as His instruments.
I was sitting in a collaboration group yesterday, with several colleagues (we are all psychotherapists) and the topic of religiosity came up in regard to a particular patient. How quick my friends were to condemn rigid thinking which they associate with religious belief. They find the concept of objective truth completely unacceptable and disrespectful.
Made me think how we as representatives of Christ and His Gospel have not pastured our sheep well, for we have not preached and live a life of love, and the reality of love and forgiveness in the person of Jesus Christ. That love and forgiveness, that person, is objectively true.
Too many of us who claim religion are filled with resentments and anger. We mislead our people because of it.
Brother Roger of Taize often wrote of the need for reconciliation. He was right. We need to reconcile with ourselves and with God. We need to truly believe that God loves us, and then to trust and be grateful.