One of the strong criticisms directed at Catholics by Protestant fundamentalists concern calling the Pope “Holy Father” and priests “Fathers." They say this is against the teaching of Christ. They cite Mt. 23:9 of this Sunday’s gospel which reads: “You must not be called ‘Teacher’... You have only one Teacher. And do not call anyone on earth your ‘Father’. Only one is your Father, the one in heaven. ”In reply, such an interpretation leads to absurdities. Taken literally, the words would forbid us to call our natural fathers “Father.”

Then how would we call our teachers in school if we interpret the passage literally? What Christ wants to teach is that our concern should not be after titles of honor and worldly dignity. The statement was a sharp reaction to the scribes and Pharisees’ craving for titles of honor and first places in any gathering. Greatness is not concerned with such, the Lord pointed out, but in the capacity to serve. ”The greatest among you must be your servant” (Mt.23:11).

Conscious of the temptation to abuse spiritual power, St Gregory the Great, Pope, adopted a title which has been applied to all Peter’s successors, a healthy and necessary reminder of Jesus’ teaching. The title is: “SERVANT OF THE SERVANTS OF GOD.” Concerning the title, there is a story about the lovable good old Pope John XXIII. On his way home to the Vatican, he made a surprise visit to a convent where nuns of the Holy Spirit congregation resided. The whole community led by their superior came out to meet their VIP guest. “And who are you?” the amiable pope asked the portly sister who was the first to greet him. The sister who was nervous and excited, blurted out. “Your Holiness, I am the Mother Superior of the Holy Spirit!” “Mother Superior of the Holy Spirit?” said the Pope amused. “Lucky for you, sister, because I am only the Servant of the Servants of God.”

Aren’t we all in a way like that Mother Superior consciously or otherwise? A glance at church officials, today or in any past age of church history, shows how easily we forget that we are all servants and not masters. The scramble for titles and higher places in the ecclesiastical pecking order, the jockeying for juicy positions – all these have been a seamy feature of church life. Obviously, there is nothing wrong in title and position. What makes them wrong is the attitude that authority is appropriated purely for personal glory and interest without regard for humble service to people. What is condemned is not authority but authoritarianism. The gospel passage is, therefore, a clear warning to bishops, priests and all who hold office and authority in God’s church. However, it applies also to people who are holders of civic authority.

#16. A JOKE FROM ST. JOE: “In my house I am the boss,” brags Ben to his friend. Edgar: “I am the one making decisions.” Edgar: “My wife wants me to make a request of you.” Ben: “What is it?” Edgar: “She wants me to ask if you can raise my salary.” Ben: “Wait till tomorrow. I have to ask my wife.”

November 5 – 11 is National Vocation Awareness Week. Please pray for more vocations to the Priesthood and the Religious Life in this diocese. On the 9th, we celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. The memorial of St. Leo the Great is on the 10th and on the 11th the memorial of St. Martin of Tours are celebrated. Veterans Day is also remembered on this Saturday. This is all for now, watch for the next bulletin.

Your Priest-Servant and Parochial Administrator,

Fr. Reggie