Move on from puberty in the church

Hebrews 5:12-14:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Apostolic Succession in our diocese through our Bishop Elmer Belmonte, we have so much for which we should be thankful to God.  That which began as a gathering of men and women traveling to a new land to find provision and a future for their families is being transformed by the Holy Spirit into an arrow of His Gospel, piercing the heart of Europe. But we are not there yet; we are in the middle of transformation.

This is a most challenging time for the world, perhaps more so than wartime.  In times of war it is clear what needs to be done, and the courageous put their hand to it.  But when war is coming but not yet arrived there is much uncertainty and debate: whether to prepare or avoid, to face or to flee.

This is an even more difficult time for the Church.  It is so easy to cry out, “Save us, God, for the conflict is upon us!”  We mirror one side of Christ’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane: “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me” (Matthew 26:39).  But God allows troubles, trials, heartaches, disappointments, offenses, and abandonments to come, and when He does it quickly makes clear the foundation of our life and faith.  Is our life built on peace?  Is it built on security?  Is it built on comfort?  Or is it built on Jesus – on the other side of Christ’s prayer, “nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will”?

We the Church, and specifically all of us in the Diocese of Europe, are in the very process of being transformed: we are being refined as silver and gold.  God is doing a work in us that we have not seen before.  Up until this time we have not grown to any great extent … but God is preparing us both to grow and to bear fruit.

God is bringing us through puberty.  In the past we have grown primarily through inviting friends and others to come alongside us, but now the Holy Spirit is doing a work within us to make us capable of reproduction: transforming us from self-seeking adolescents into self-giving disciples, making us spiritually mature enough to birth and train up others to become disciples as well.

Remember puberty?  It was painful; it was awkward; at times it was embarrassing.  It came with all its accompanying difficulties: acne, body odor, mood swings, excessive high or low self-esteem, aggression, depression, conflict, and all the rest.  But just as it is not possible to become an adult physically without going through puberty, so we must go through puberty spiritually.  God has to take us through it in order to make us fruit worth reproducing after our own kind.

Take courage, brothers and sisters!  Embrace the cup of sacrifice that our Lord Jesus embraced!  Move on from milk and feed on solid food, the meat of the Gospel!  Let us exercise our faith – stretch our muscles, pump spiritual iron, step out of the boat when Jesus calls – and He will prepare us for the battles which are surely coming.  He will lead us into those battles, and He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Word of God: speak!

Non nobis Domine+

by Fr. Dana Jackson

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