Glorifying God, leaking into the world the love that he leaks into us through the wounds and breaches and gaps of our own lives, is a severely practical and down to earth activity.
In that sense we do in the world what God does in us. We receive His love where we are vulnerable and weak, and lose sight of it when we claim strength and power. Christians reach to the jagged edges of our society, and of the world in general. Food distribution, places for rough sleepers, debt counselling, credit unions, community mediation, support for ex‐offenders, support for victims of crime, care for the dying, valuing those who have no economic contribution to make, or are too weak to argue for their own value. All this is the daily work of the church, which goes on every day and everywhere. We leak out into the world the love that God leaks into us.
The above bit of revoltingly banal, worldly shlock comes to us from the Christmas sermon of the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who was enthroned today as head of the Anglican Communion in a ceremony that looked like this:
Welby the Most modern Reverend becomes 105th Archbishop of Canterbury with African drummers, Punjabi music and passionate sermon against slavery. . . .
And in a moment of history, the Venerable Sheila Watson, archdeacon of Canterbury, took a central role in the proceedings. It is the first time an Archbishop has been enthroned by a woman. . . .
He also had a message for Britain as a whole, warning the country against ‘severing its roots’ in Christianity as he attributed important social movements such as the abolition of slavery to the influence of religion. . . .
‘But if we sever our roots in Christ we abandon the stability which enables good decision making. There can be no final justice, or security or love or hope in our society if it is not based on rootedness in Christ.’
He warned that modern-day challenges on issues such as the environment, the economy and tackling global poverty could only be faced with ‘extraordinary Christ-liberated courage’.
…which, really, speak for themselves, but Dr. Charlton’s observation is too pithy not to take note of:
What is Welby’s Church of England, anyway?
Well, apparently it is a really important part of the welfare state.
Just so. Meanwhile, The Guardian declares that Justin Welby “doesn’t do fluffy spirituality — he’s the tough leader the church needs. . . . Welby is a decisive man of action.” First of all, what counts as “fluffy spirituality” if not the above-quoted banality? But don’t doubt that he’s a “decisive man of action.” He’ll decisively complete the Anglican slide into liberal apostasy.
Check out his vestments, by the way:
Meanwhile, in another universe:
We can walk as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong. We may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord. When we are not walking, we stop moving. When we are not building on the stones, what happens? The same thing that happens to children on the beach when they build sandcastles: everything is swept away, there is no solidity. When we do not profess Jesus Christ, the saying of Léon Bloy comes to mind: ‘Anyone who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil.’ When we do not profess Jesus Christ, we profess the worldliness of the devil, a demonic worldliness.
Those words come to us from Pope Francis’ homily delivered at his first Mass. It is more or less an explicit rebuke of liberal Welbyism. Francis was installed a few days ago, in a ceremony and Mass that looked like this:
The homily delivered at his inaugural Mass (note, not the same Mass as the homily quoted above) touches on some of the same themes as Welby’s, but note the subtle differences:
How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own. This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. . . . In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation! . . .
The vocation of being a “protector”, however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!
Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history there are “Herods” who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.
Here, Christian charity, service, and love for the poor are placed in their proper context: love for Christ. To a Welby, Joseph might be a good example because he didn’t pass judgment on women in crisis pregnancies; to a Francis, Joseph is a saint because he loved Jesus and Mary.
Speaking of vestments, hey, is that a pallium?
Catholics, rejoice. You have been spared this: