PASTORAL CARE OF GOD’S PEOPLE
The last canon in the Code of Canon Law, the primary law book of the Church, states that the salvation of souls is the supreme law of the Church. The rescue, the salvation, of individuals is what is to guide all the activities of the Church. What we are to be rescued from is, for the most part, ourselves. We make ourselves and our happiness the measure of what is right and acceptable.
Jeremiah, six centuries before Christ, challenged the leaders of the people to change their ways or see the nation collapse. Because of their self-indulgence they had mislead the people and allowed them to be scattered, taken into exile by the Assyrians or the Babylonians, two of the dominant powers in the region at that time. Jeremiah judged them criminally negligent shepherds who had betrayed the trust God showed them by allowing them to be leaders of the people. They had the role of king, not for their own glory and grandeur, but to show God’s loving care for the people.
Jeremiah’s words, as the bible always does, are not just words for times past but have application right here and now in the 21st century. Political leaders can be targeted for failure to care well for their people, but the bishops of our church likewise must heed the cry of Jeremiah. The scourge of priests abusing youngsters was allowed to gain hold and spread because of inaction and turning a blind eye to what was happening by the very ones to whom the flock of Christ was entrusted. Appallingly at times some were themselves offenders. They knew what was right but chose to do the opposite. No doubt they justified their actions in some way, but still harm was done and evil flourished.
We can have grown up in well-functioning families or in dysfunctional ones where domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, racism and sexism poisoned the air we breathed. These circumstances have their impact on us but never deprive us of our free will. We can come to know what is true and good even in the poorest conditions. We can see the darker side of those who as parents are charged with care but still not lose our freedom to choose what is good and right and reject what is wrong.
Jesus saw the people of his own day looking like sheep without a shepherd and set about caring for them in teaching, delivering and healing. All of us, bishops, priests, parents, teachers, are to see the plight in which people are and do something to rescue them from harm and lead them in ways that help them grow and flourish.
Father Adrian Farrelly
|Jul 30, 2015||16th Sunday in Ordinary Time 19.07.2015||Listen||Download|