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The Mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived at the house. Standing outside, they sent word to Jesus and called him… But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
When C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) converted to Christianity, he chose to become a high Anglican; that is, an Anglo-Catholic. His good friend, J.R.R. Tolkien, a cradle Catholic, was disappointed when Lewis didn’t follow in the footsteps of other literary contemporaries into the Catholic Church. Now Tolkien may have gone too far when he accused Lewis of being an anti-Catholic at heart. But if one considers the fact that C.S. Lewis grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, an English Territory and a Protestant hotbed, then there may have been a good deal of ‘Ulster Protestant’ still left in him, even if it was hidden from him.
Although T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) described himself as a Catholic, and a militantly traditional one at that, he too became an Anglo-Catholic around the year 1930. He truly believed (at that time) that traditional Catholicism could be practiced in the Church of England. It is surprising that someone so well educated in philosophy and theology would choose to become a member of the Church of England not for religious reasons but for cultural reasons. “The great majority of English speaking people, or at least the vast majority of persons of British descent…are outside of the Roman communion.”
Soon after he entered the Church of England, he became a British subject. In this way, he completed the metamorphosis from Yankee to English gentleman.
The Lord’s family arrived at a house where Jesus was staying. The crowd informed him: “Your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you.” This statement allowed the Lord to teach an important lesson to the crowd: “Who are my mother and brothers? Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
How novel! In this one statement, the Lord knowingly opened wide the doors to Heaven by creating a universal, “Catholic”, Church. This Church, founded by Jesus Christ, would not be attached to a national identity or a particular culture, or a particular people. No, this Church, this Catholic Church, would be open to all, regardless of race, sex, blood relations, etc… The only condition for admittance would be to do the Will of God.
There would be no special privileges for being a blood relative of the Lord. Mary would not become a priest because she was entitled to become a priest, nor would his “brothers” or “sisters” lead the Church after his death. On the contrary, Peter would become Pope and Mary would become His Mother! In reality, Mary would become the Mother of all believers since she was the first to believe it all!
Although we are made of many parts, we are all one body. Although we have been baptized in the faith by different people, we have all been received into the one faith. We have all confessed our faith in the one true God; the one who revealed himself to humanity.
Let us pray to the Lord to rid ourselves from all types of “parochialism”; that is, a narrow mindedness that excludes the Universality of the Roman Catholic Church. The Church is not Roman because Peter was Roman. It is Roman because Peter, the head, the ‘capital’, shed his blood in Rome.
And the blood of the martyrs is seed for the Church.
Let me end with the following story. Wilfred Blunt (1840-1922), an English poet and writer, desperately wanted to believe in God: “How willingly would I believe if only I could but, woe is me, I cannot”. Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953), a brilliant Catholic writer, was intent on helping him. After returning from a trip to Rome, he presented to his friend a crucifix that was blessed by Pope Pius XI. “It found me”, Blunt recorded in his diary.
Belloc assured his friend that being already a Catholic he was entitled to ask for the sacraments. Feeling unworthy, Belloc reminded him:
“I am by all nature of mind skeptical, by all my nature of body exceedingly sensual. So sensual that the virtues restrictive of sense are but phrases to me. But I accept these phrases as true and act upon them as well as a struggling man can. And as to the doubt of the soul I discover it to be false: a mood: not a conclusion. My conclusion – and that of all men who have ever once seen it – is the faith. Corporate, organized, a personality, teaching. A thing, not a theory. It.” (Joseph Pearce, Literary Converts, pg. 114).
All are invited to come into the Catholic Church. No one should be standing outside…unless they want to.
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- mk 3:31-35