[A Bishop] must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it.
his passage is about a Bishop or “Elder” or “Overseer” in a congregation, but it is true of all of us to the extent that each of us may be the only Christian another party engages with. Please hold that in mind…
One of the oddest things about our world today is how in touch we all are, and yet, at the same time, how out of touch we are with each other. I had an odd experience a few months ago that underscored my sense of the Church’s borkedness. (yes, I used “borked” there) In one conversation in Colorado there was blowback from an event that had happened 4 years earlier in my San Francisco parish and the “real story” behind another event. It’s all hearsay as far as I can tell, although it took me the better part of a month to come to that inner peace. In that one conversation is was made clear that if the right questions had been asked it would have resolved most of the issues. (I confess, that as the highest lay official at my SF parish, I felt some guilt over not asking those questions in a timely manner – they are pointless now.) How much of that chain of events was caused by one silly action – a bad catechesis – blows my mind.
Failure to hold on to the faith, failure pass it on in a sound manner, is so yuge. Because: God didn’t give us a book. He gave us a Church. The Church has seen fit to give us a book – but Orthodox and Catholic clergy vow to not read or teach that text in any way contrary to the Tradition. That vow should apply to all of us. If we don’t pass it on as we got it, it stops moving. There’s no way to just pick up a book and guess at it.
Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.
Again, this isn’t just about clergy: for in our time we are all teachers of the faith. I certainly am with my blog posts (which only get 30 or so readers) – and I stumble a lot and I’m mindful of how careful I must be: and you, gentle readers, who have been with me throughout my 20 years of electronic journalling know how many turns I can take. If you pass it on wrong, they’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on and so on. To make it more complex, our internet will share it with millions even if you only whisper it in secret and scandal will go forth.
As teachers – all of us – in our daily life we are responsible for passing that faith whole in our relationships with friends and family, with coworkers, with kids that see us as role models. Yup… a lot.
How can we be mindful?