9-26-2021 Reflection

Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

One of the highlights of this now officially past Summer, as opposed to the low lights of deaths in violence prone cities, was the spectacular flight into near space by billionaire Sir Richard Branson in a rocket that he helped fund.  Along with 3 Virgin Galactic employees and 2 pilots, his rocket propelled him more than 50 miles high and suspended them in weightlessness for a few minutes before returning to earth.  As Branson floated around in micro gravity, he taped a message: “To all you kids out there—I was once a child with a dream, looking up to the stars.  Now I am an adult in a spaceship…if we can do this, just imagine what you can do,” he said.  An unselfish message aimed at the world’s youngsters.  Note that word “unselfish.”

Later on, after the flight safely landed, a reporter asked Branson if it was important for him to be the first to do this.  I was happily impressed with his answer: “No, not really, because there are many people working together to make such flights available to the average person.”  What got my attention was the unselfish nature of his answer, with none of the arrogance and self-promotion that often mars the speech of the rich and famous. Now I’m not proposing Richard Branson for canonization, but I did and still do admire his largeness of mind and heart.  Call that “magnanimity.”  The word means “nobly generous; not petty in feelings or conduct.”

Considering the Word of God in our Liturgy this weekend, it presents us with no less than 2 biblical figures blest with that same spirit of generosity: Moses and Jesus.  For his part, Moses is not bothered in the least that there were other men in the camp of the Hebrews prophesying, namely Eldad and Medad.  When the great man’s loyal aide Joshua heard about this, he asked Moses to stop them.  Moses answered Joshua by saying “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all of the people were prophets!”

Many centuries later, another “J”, namely young John, reported to Jesus “we saw someone driving out demons in Your name. We tried to put a stop to his doings because he does not follow us.”

Jesus wisely and unselfishly tells John not to prevent the man because nobody “who performs a mighty deed in My Name can at the same time speak ill of me.  Whoever is not against us is for us.”  Magnanimity again.  Although from the Sacred Heart that is hardly surprising.

We know, or should know, how magnanimous our Church is in the key area of relating to other Christian bodies, and even to adherents of other completely different faiths.  Here are two citations from the official Catholic Catechism, a book which is sadly neglected by many Catholic adults looking for straight answers. Both statements display magnanimity.

First citation: “The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter.  Those who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.” (#838)

Second citation: “The Catholic Church considers all goodness and truth found in (other) religions as ‘a preparation for the Gospel and given by Him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life.” (#843)

One day a single friend asked a father of four, “Why do you love your kids?”  The father thought for a minute, but the only answer he could come up with was “Because they’re mine.”

The children had no need to do anything to prove themselves to their father.  He took them just as they were.  So it is with God’s love for us.  He loves us as we are. Even when we sin against Him, He holds out His love to us in the form of forgiveness if we’re humble enough to repent and try to change. How truly magnanimous of Him!
May He always love you and give you His peace.