By Zoe Cannon
“Be prepared to give an explanation of the reason for your hope” (1 Peter 3:150.
Since the beginning of time, every generation has been concerned about the future of their children’s lives in a changing society. The concerns with our present culture are no exception. We have tremendous methods for communicating, and social media has become a tool for sharing lots of information. But the greatest message we can share with people of every age is an understanding of God’s love and mercy in our lives.
Joseph and Mary had no means of communication as they traveled in a caravan from Jerusalem to Nazareth after the Passover celebration. Jesus became separated from them, and they worried for days until he was found in the temple learning and teaching about God the Father. It is natural to be concerned about our children and grandchildren growing up in a culture where Christian values are often under attack. Fear can be a healthy emotion when passionately united with faith and trust in a merciful God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:100.
Catechesis is a process for learning about the Gospel messages of Jesus. This “good news” is a powerful way to turn worry into hope, and sharing the reason for our hope is essential to a healthy society. The Church is Universal; therefore, distinctive cultural changes do exist – not in truth, but in practice. We have a living, human, teaching Magisterium with authority in the bishop of Rome and the bishops worldwide. The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church says the Church is “like a sacrament or a sign and instrument both of a very close knit union with God and the unity of the whole human race” (Lumen Gentium).
How do we unite people? Ecumenism is the organized attempt to bring about the cooperation and unity among Christians.
In 1949, Pope Pius XII wrote “Ecumenical Movement by the Holy Office” — a document allowing Catholics to engage in theological conversation and common prayer with Protestant Christians. In 1993, St. Pope John Paul II wrote “Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” encouraging authentic Christian unity. He said, “The future of the Kingdom of God in the world is at stake.” He speaks from the heart about the existence of God, the dignity of man, pain, suffering and evil. He writes about eternal life and the meaning of salvation, hope, and the relationship of Christianity to other faiths and of Catholicism, because there is no salvation without Church.
Liberal Christianity is found in every denomination. We must not reject essential truth or diminish authority in the bible. The exclusive nature of salvation in Christ is total dependence upon God’s grace, apart from works for salvation. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
True ecumenism is more about saving souls than environmental or social issues, though they are important. The message in the Gospel teachings is not an afterthought, but a way to transform hearts.
Angels in heaven rejoice when a lost sinner is saved, not when a law is passed or a road is paved. These issues are important, but they should never overshadow expanding the Kingdom of God with a true gospel message.
Scripture gives us clear guidance for the ultimate goal in ecumenical ventures.“Whatever you do in word or deed, do it in the name of Jesus giving glory to God the Father” (Col. 3:17). Guard what has been entrusted to you; be united in hope, Ecumenical cooperation is a good thing! Amen!