Peter proclaims, “And to all those far off.” Typically, the expressions “those near” designates the Jewish people in the homeland of Palestine, and “those far off” designates the Diaspora of the Jews throughout the Graeco-Roman world. But here the author adds “all” which quickly came to mean in the apostolic church, the entire rest of the world’s inhabitants. This is the story of the Acts of the Apostles.

The fundamental mission of the Church, to be superseded by nothing else, is the salvation of ALL souls. Sadly we live in a time when the self-righteous think that the church should now shrink in size, leaving a small elite to renew the church. However what they mean by renewing the church is to go back in time to the 19th century and it lisping pietism. They are no intention of mission. Therefore, we see only Jansenists in 21st century garb, but really no different from the poor people of every age who think they know more than the church.

When these white racists (really prosperity religion catholics) think of mission at all, it is approached from a position of looking down their long and arrogant noses at the rest of us who gone astray, on the very brink of falling off the cliff into the pit of fiery hell. They think in terms of the rest of humanity outside their little smug circle as pagans, savages, and heretics.

If there’s any one thing that will enable the church to turn away from the temptations of legalism (including keeping a ledger of dry indulgences to ensure that I have won my ticket to heaven, will be to recover this deep sense of mission, led by good shepherds, who “have the smell of their sheep.” (Pope Francis)

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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