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(Part 17)


December 14, 2013

I would like to take what Pope Francis said about Christians who always criticize preachers and adapt that to our situation in community. We have leaders who always (or just very often) criticize the pronouncements of leaders over them. They find fault. They magnify the shortcomings of leaders. They think they are better than these leaders. They criticize behind their backs, often maligning the leaders and stirring up a negative perception among other leaders.

Perhaps they do not want to be admonished. Perhaps they do not want to be upset by words and actions that they do not agree with. Perhaps they resent being “slapped in the face” by decisions that they publicly already opposed. Perhaps they are trapped in their own conceptions and preferences as to community direction. Perhaps they are scandalized by out-of-the-box or challenge-to-the-status-quo teaching or directions.

What is needed is humble submission to authority within the body. It is not to say that leaders are perfect and will never make mistakes. Rather, it is to say that for peace and unity, there has to be obedience and submission. There are orderly provisions for handling disagreements.

At the end of the day, we need to have trust in the Holy Spirit, who anoints our leaders. And know that, if leaders act with purity of heart, the Holy Spirit can make straight crooked lines. It is God’s work after all.

Let us not have “sad” leaders who just criticize. We would not want to have leaders who, as Pope Francis says, do not believe in the Holy Spirit.


Pope laments 'sad' Christians who always criticize preaching

In a homily at Mass on December 13, Pope Francis said that Christians who always criticize preachers are “sad Christians,” who are “trapped” in their own conceptions of the faith.

Commenting on the Jews who rejected the message of St. John the Baptist, and then rejected the message of Jesus, the Pope remarked:

The people of that time preferred to take refuge in a more elaborate religion: in the moral precepts, such as the group of Pharisees; in political compromise, as the Sadducees; in social revolution, as the zealots; in gnostic spirituality, such as Essenes.

The same tendencies are visible today, the Pope continued, among Christians who invariably find fault with the message presented to them by their priests. They are caught up in their own ideologies, he said, and unable to hear the Gospel message. This is a great loss, the Pope said, because effective preaching should sometimes be upsetting. The Church, he said, “admonishes you, teaches you­slaps you, as well­but it is the very freedom that makes the Church grow.”

This problem, the Pope went on, illustrates what St. Paul said about the scandal of preaching: “That God should speak to us through men with limits­sinful men­scandalizes.” Some people focus on the weaknesses of the preachers rather than the content of their message.

“These sad Christians do not believe in the Holy Spirit,” the Pope concluded, urging his congregation to pray that they might be open to hearing the Gospel message.

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