2 Kings 22:8-13; 23:1-3
Each generation and each culture of religion has been plagued by "false prophets" – people who mistakenly claim to have a special relationship with God, or a special message from God. Early Christian documents also show that the first followers of Jesus struggled with the problem of authenticity, or how to evaluate the genuineness of their proclamation.
Today’s readings and today’s feast (St. Cyril of Alexandria) remind us that the path to holiness and wholeness is often zigzagged! King Josiah was in his twenties when called to reform ancient Judah, and get the people back on track. And Cyril served as the pope’s representative at the Council of Ephesus (43l), defending the cause of orthodoxy. Some historians and theologians insist that, had he been more patient and diplomatic, softening his opposition to those who sided with Nestorius, the painful split would not have been so severe. But even saints must grow out of immaturity, self-absorption, narrow-mindedness.
None of us can claim the final judgment, for we can all be artists of self-deception. Entering into a dialogue with other members of the wider faith community, and being attentive to the rich and full voice of Tradition are essential. That is why we Catholics believe that the gift of Revelation, the Truth of God’s love, comes to us through the Spirit, in relationship: 1) the Magisterium (a hierarchy, a collegiality of pope and bishops), 2) theologians (prophets and visionaries who help us dream), and 3) the sensus fidei (the rich and profound experience of the People of God). Remove one leg from this "tripod" of authority, and the structure collapses.
How am I being called to participate in the necessary reform or conversion required of the Church, the Body of Christ, today? St. Paul of the Cross, St. Francis of Assisi, and many others were called to "repair my house" – Shall we follow?
Fr. Jack Conley, C.P. ministers as a preacher of parish missions and retreats. He is a member of the Passionist formation community at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.