On February 12, all eyes turned toward Cuba on the occasion of Francis’ encounter with Kirill, the Greco-Schismatic Patriarch of Moscow, following a centuries-long rupture of relations. Unfortunately, to the perplexity – or indignation – of Catholics, this encounter did not signify any progress toward the conversion of those belonging to the auto-denominated ‘Orthodox’ church…but rather the contrary. They were encouraged to announce the Gospel without the necessity of returning to the Church…they were called brothers in the faith…without a rejection of the heresies they profess!
Through the centuries, the Church has moved from triumph to triumph, though it continually endures attacks, persecutions and hatred from all quarters, all promoted by one leader: the infernal enemy who has the illusion of one day destroying it.
‘My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me’ (Jn 10:27). No one can but be enchanted at the sight of a flock led by its shepherd.
When Pilate, with reverential fear, asked Christ about his sovereignty, he answered: ‘You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice’ (Jn 18:37) Was Our Lord perhaps being a fundamentalist in making this affirmation with so much conviction and resolve? Since he is God, made man, the Truth in substance, he could not have acted differently.
After the death of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross, a soldier pierced his side with a lance, and blood and water flowed forth – a symbol of the sacraments that he would institute for the edification of his Church, the only true Church.
The Gospel of Saint Luke relates that two thieves were crucified with Jesus: one on his right and the other on his left. One of them, repentant, prayed to Jesus: ‘Remember me when you come into your kingdom’ (Lk 23: 42).
‘He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him takes care to chastise him’ (Prov 13:24).
The natural love that parents have for their children such that they are even willing to sacrifice their lives for the good of their offspring is familiar to all. Due to this love, parents experience much concern when a young person begins to take the wrong path… They must teach them, reprehend and warn them, and when necessary, resort to a more severe measure: punishment.
It is very pleasing, and above all, we feel love and admiration when, on going through the pages of the Gospel, we observe how Jesus ‘went about doing good’ (Acts 10: 38) – He cured all, pardoned sins, multiplied loaves, resurrected the dead, blessed children, etc. But, there is a truth that is often forgotten in our days, and even ends up being despised by those who would prefer to tear away the memory of it from their consciences: in the inseparable unity of merciful Jesus, there also exists justice, severity and integrity that does not tolerate the abominations or the errors of those who obstinately persist in sin. Both are the same Jesus…in both ways, Jesus is good, rather He is Goodness itself!
Imagine someone who becomes seriously ill, and after many attempts for a cure, finally finds a doctor who prescribes an efficacious remedy. After some days of treatment, he finds himself cured. Naturally, gratitude will bring him to transmit to as many as possible the competence of the doctor and efficacious medicine prescribed, emphasizing the gravity of the illness he was saved from. His testimony, besides praising the doctor, will serve for posterior experiences regarding this illness and encourage all of those who suffer from it to hope for a cure. Evidently, no one would think that this propaganda entails an apology of the sad condition of the sick person…
‘The sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice’ (Jn 10:4). The suggestive imagery of the shepherd with his flock is almost a synonym of the Episcopal ministry in the Church.