Monday, February 25, 2013

The Telephone Game: RC Style

Remember the telephone game? You sat in a circle with a bunch of other kids and someone whispered a message to the person next to them, who whispered it to the person next to them, and so on until it reached the final person in the circle. They then said what the message they heard was.

Of course the message at the end didn't resemble the original message. And if there were boys involved, more often than not the end message included something about burps or farts.

Imagine if the Catholic Church employed the telephone game. Well, in a very real sense it does. Jesus gave a message to the disciples, who then passed it on to others, who then passed in on to others, and so on for over 2,000 years. But there's a unique twist to the telephone game: Roman Catholic style. The Holy Spirit guides its leaders, and if it looks like the message is getting mixed-up, church leaders step in and correct the message.

Picture it: little Jimmy is going to insert his fart message, and the teacher steps in and clearly says to everyone, "Um, actually, Jimmy, Suzie's message had nothing to do with bodily noises. She said, 'Spring flowers smell nice.'"

Sound anything like the role of the magesterium? Right from the very beginning, people were messing up Jesus' message. Sometimes it is the sender's fault, sometimes there is just too much noise to clearly hear the message or there could be an issue on the receiver's end. Sometimes it's on purpose; other times it's an innocent error that needs a little guidance toward the true message. It doesn't matter. Our Spirit-inspired leaders are there to step in and correct the message. It may take time for a council to clarify the message. It may not be popular. It always adheres to the truth of God's saving love.

So, when people say the next pope should be more modern (or whatever way they spin it) it's kinda like little Jimmy's immature attempt at altering the message. That's not the message Jesus started. That's not the message the church has preserved for more than two millennia. It's not the message the 266th pope will allow to be passed to the next generation.

Holy Spirit, continue to inspire us, strengthen us to uphold the truth and enkindle in us the fire of your love.

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