Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wednesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

(James 4:13-17; Mark 9:38-40)

Last week Pope Francis again made a gesture that caught the attention of international news.  As many know, Pope Francis has good relations with evangelical Protestants.  Once he knelt before a number of evangelical ministers asking sat their blessing.  Last week he asked a convention of evangelicals to pray for him as he works for Christian unity.  Some worry that in appealing to Protestants Pope Francis might compromise Catholic doctrine, but he sees himself following Jesus’ mandate in today's gospel.

The situation recorded in the gospel sounds more like the period of the early church than Jesus' time.  Christianity is a growing movement.  Many Greek-speaking pagans and some Jews are being baptized.  But, as inevitably happens within established churches, not all are satisfied with institutional leaders.  They leave their communities to form new ones professing faith in Jesus but not following the directives of his apostles or their designated successors.  Foreseeing the development, Jesus warns his disciples not to persecute the upstarts.

Pope Francis may be telling us that we should not only pray for church unity but pray for it with Christians who do not come to our parishes.  The prayer may be offered in homes and in workplaces.  Pastors may organize special prayer meetings with counterparts from other Christian communities that could take place in a Catholic church or in a Protestant one.