Joel 1:13-15, 2:1-2
Psalm 9:1-3, 6 and 16, 8-9
What a wonderful, enthused, optimistic old man. Pope John felt like a warm breeze after a long winter to my adolescent self. He was so positive, enthusiastic, and he wanted to bring new life to the church – which I was considering serving as a priest. What a role model!
What a contrast: Gird yourselves and weep, O priests! … near is the day of the Lord, and it comes as ruin from the Almighty.
What a surprise: I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart… Such gratitude after such a numbing prophecy!
Jesus came driving out demons and some said he did so by the power of Beelzebul (Satan). But Jesus warned them if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Pope St. John XXIII, Vicar of Christ, opened the windows of the Church to let in the new air of the Spirit trusting that God would lead us into new ways of responding to his ever present call and mandate. His successor, Pope St. Paul VI, kept the windows open while guiding the process of the Council to renew the Church.
For half a century the Church has been straining to accept and respond to the movement of the Spirit unleashed by God through these two saints and their Council. For the same half century an unclean spirit has been roaming through arid regions searching for a rest, but finding none, it says, ‘I shall return to my home from which I came”.
We need to be very careful not to condemn a movement of God in our midst! The Church has not yet been entirely swept clean and put in order, but it is in good hands under our current Vicar of Christ. Pope Francis has committed himself to continue the reform by naming abuses current and past and renewing our trust in God’s Mercy.
Fr. John M. Lee, C.P., is Retreat Director of Bishop Molloy Retreat House, “The Passionist Spiritual Center in New York City”, www.bishopmolloy.org