Jesus had peculiar taste in friends. You put the whole crowd together and they were not as smart as one of the third rate philosophers in Rome. Maybe some of them could read and write. They were perhaps street smart, but you were going to announce the nearness of the kingdom of God would you surround yourself with folks that wouldn’t make assistant precinct captain? They were utterly insensitive to Jesus’ spiritual message and interested only in the power and prestige they were going to have in his kingdom (which they didn’t understand at all). One of them was a thief and ten of them cowards. Surely, even if he had decided to limit is choice to Galilee Jesus could have done better? Why these sluggards and nerds? Why indeed? And why do we pretend that our leaders today are better than they were? Patently the first Pope and the first bishops (if we want to use that analogy) were not sacred persons, but inept, often stupid human beings? Why do have to pretend that their successors are any better? Why should they be immune from criticism? Have we missed the point somewhere along the line that the leaders of the church and the followers in the church are fragile, imperfect human beings and that Jesus chose them precisely because he wanted a human church. If he wanted something better, he should have turned it over not to the philosophers in Rome but to the Seraphim.
Fr. Greeley's Last Book:
One upon a time there were a group of young men who idolized the quarter back on the local NFL team (no cities in mind in this story). He was a great passer, a gutsy runner, he played despite pain, he was modest at media interviews, generous with volunteer work, kind to kids, and signed autographs till all had been accommodated. He was humble and respectful and prayed before every game. He was practically perfect, it seemed, a great role model for kids in the city and around the country.
Then one night he came into the tavern where these young men hung out. He was roaring drunk and abusive. He pushed a couple of women around, insulted the bar tender, picked a fight with a little guy, and sneered at our group of idolaters. They were shocked into silence. However, one of them, a bit of nerd, actually asked the QB for his autograph. He knocked the pen out of his hand, shoved him back against the bar, and cursed him out. What a jerk the crowd said. We'll never cheer for him again. He probably uses drugs too. He's no role model for children. The team should trade. But, the nerd said, he's only human.
That's no excuse everyone else agreed.
Gospel Mk 1:7-11
This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
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Catholics and the Struggle with Their Church
The survey of the archdiocese, which Father Greeley describes as "a very complicated place" demographically, asks some difficult questions, and finds some interesting truths.
In Memory of Father Andrew M. Greeley
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