It’s been circulated widely,
on EWTN and in various print and internet
It makes a claim
that we who are cradle Catholics have heard
that Jesus founded the Catholic Church
and it’s still the
same church it was in the year 33.
But that’s not true.
Jesus was a Jew,
faithful to the end.
His apostles and his disciples, all Jewish,
gathering as Jews who followed the Way of Jesus,
in an ecclesia, a Greek word
that means assembly.
Both Peter and
Paul died in the mid- to late-60s,
before the Romans leveled the temple in
and before the split of Christian Jews from other Jews.
the inability of those disparate communities of Jews
to dialogue that led to
and the eventual consideration of Jewish Christians
Eventually that ecclesia came to be translated
not as assembly
but as church.
The statement in
about first being called “Christians” in Antioch
was written no
earlier than the last decade of the first century,
more than 20 years after
the destruction of the temple
and subsequent splitting off of the Christian
All four of the Gospels were written
after the destruction of the
temple in Jerusalem,
that is, after the year 70 AD.
What that means is
that the scriptural references
that present Jesus as founding a
came about because the writers
interpreted their own
of the dissension and the split
as they imagined Jesus would
have responded to it.
What was it
that Jesus did, if he didn’t “found a church?”
We can be certain that he
called his Jewish brothers and sisters
to take the Jewish tradition
The shema was the prayer that guided his life:
Hear, O Israel!
God is God, and God alone.
And you shall love God with all your heart, mind,
For Jesus, the exodus out of slavery
and the release from
framed the covenant relationship:
God is faithful and does not
We are therefore called to be faithful to God.
And we can be
certain that he pointed out the failure of leaders,
both political and
to live in right relationship to God and each other,
he called them to repent
and believe the good news
that God loves and
lectionary gives us a wide choice of readings
for this Pentecost
all of them having to do
with the action of God’s Spirit among
In our first reading from the prophet Ezekiel,
we are uplifted by the
vivid image of those dry bones rising up
and God’s promise to put the Spirit
in us that we may live.
Then the passage from Paul’s letter to the
assures us that the Spirit helps us
when we don’t know how to
interceding with those inexpressible groanings
that we’re all
And the pericope from John’s Gospel,
high Christology that
it is with its metaphor of living water,
tells us not about a claim that
but of the impact Jesus has
on the community that is trying to
follow his Way.
Whether we ponder
the usual readings
about the Pentecost experience in the Upper Room
call to peace and forgiveness
or the readings we heard at this Mass,
have to ask ourselves what this ecclesia,
this assembly of God’s holy
means for us?
For many of us,
it’s easier to point to things
that our church is NOT:
not the church of child sex abuse and
not the church of pelvic theology,
not the church of
not the church of a salvation
that’s limited to a few perfect
When we started to gather as an intentional Eucharistic
more than two years ago,
we named our ecclesia in honor of the
the breath of God
that we have each experienced in our own
as we stumble and struggle along the
In our church of the Holy
we know the power of the Spirit
that breathed over the waters in
the rejuvenation of the Spirit
that enlivened the dry bones of
We know the presence of the Spirit
that filled Jesus of
with wisdom and grace and integrity and fidelity,
the courage of
that emboldened Jesus’ followers
to continue in the Way he
That same Spirit remains with us,
quickening us with the
gifts and fruits of peace and
I regularly experience that
Spirit down at Claver House.
After I missed a few days there last
John, one of the guests who struggles with COPD,
phoned to find out
if I was okay.
This week George,
that wonderfully witty octogenarian
Korean War vet,
brought me one of his canes to use until my knee gets
I experience that same Spirit here,
in the phone calls and emails
asking how I’m doing
and if I need help with anything,
and the homemade
sent home with me after Mass,
and the new scheduling of
Mass setup volunteers.
Most of all, I see and hear that same Spirit
your generosity to your families and friends and neighbors,
in your calls to
one another through the week,
in your self-giving choices on the job
in Tree Toledo
and the trunk-full of donations
that you give me to deliver
around town on Mondays
and a virtually limitless number
of other good
works that you do.
At a Call to Action meeting last Monday one of the
wondered how Dorothy Day had ended up
being the holy person
and I found great affirmation in the answer.
She struggled and
made mistakes and learned from them;
she prayed and reflected and tried to do
what was right;
she listened to the Spirit
and grew stronger through the
She ended up becoming a remarkably whole human
What I see when I look out
over this community
is a holy people
following the Way of
time and energy and talent and
on serving the one God of us all,
fully alive in the
I can read a book about Dorothy Day,
but I see the Spirit alive in
Glory be to God!
And thank you.