27 Apr 2015
[Scripture Readings: Acts 11:1-18; Ps 42:2-3 and 43:3-4; John 10:1-10]
The Catholic Church can have a reputation for being exclusive. And that’s the case for any number of reasons, too many to mention here. But for us who are in the Church, who are in the care of the One Shepherd, the idea that the Church is exclusive sounds foreign.
Just consider all the varieties of people who make up this global body of the faithful: men, women, and children, of most races, nationalities and languages; saintly people, sinful people, and more sinful people. White- and blue-collar workers; the very old and the very young, and everybody in-between; married people, divorced people; heterosexuals and homosexuals; people who’ve had abortions; conservatives and liberals; Republicans and Democrats; wise people and not-so-wise people; and on and on and on.
The Holy Spirit of God does not discriminate in his work; just like the sun in the sky which shines down on everybody, just like the rain which pours down on everybody, regardless of who they are. Of course, God does that so that all “may have life and have it more abundantly.” But, as we know, not everybody wants that life. It’s offered to all, but not everybody accepts it.
And this reality is reflected in Scripture and in our Eucharistic Prayer. In the Gospel of Mark [14:24], we hear that the Blood of Christ is poured out “hupér pollón,” [ὑπὲρ πολλῶν]: “for many.” And we hear that every time we come for Mass: the Blood of Christ is poured out “for you and for many,” from the Latin “pro vobis et pro multis.”
The Holy Spirit is offered to all, indiscriminately. God is truly “catholic,” that is, “universal,” in his offering of love, acceptance, and forgiveness. But our Lord knows that it’s only “many” and not “all” who will accept the offer. And our Lord knows that even some of his own flock will be hesitant to extend his offer to others—like the faithful who rebuked Peter for sitting and eating with the Gentiles.
The Catholic Church can have a reputation for being exclusive. Some of our Catholic brothers and sisters do, indeed, exclude others. And some people exclude themselves voluntarily from the flock of the Good Shepherd. But at the heart of our Catholic faith is the Sacred Heart of Jesus, broken open and poured out indiscriminately as an invitation to all people, everywhere, to be loved and accepted by him.
Many will accept the invitation. Many will extend the invitation to others. But, in the end, hopefully all will come to know the catholic, universal love of God.