I have had a pile of posts on Shepherds and flocks, because that is where the lectionary has gone, and because this is a time when we need to cling to any vestige of wisdom and honest teaching we can get. I am seeing a pile of journalists asking "when will be out of this period? What will it be like?" while their colleagues report yet another firm failing.
What we do know from these passages is that those of God can spot those who pretend to be holy, but are not. We know them, not as much by the number in the congregation, but by the quality of the congregation. Those who seek Christ will find where he is proclaimed, and most of these people will ignore denominations, to the consternation of theologians.
It is part and parcel of human nature to, in time, detect the phonies. It was, therefore, unavoidable – if very sad – that millions of people realised that the priest talking to them in a slightly too high-pitched on the Sunday was not a man of God, and could not give them the nourishment they wanted. The amount of people who have – sadly – abandoned the Catholic Church, or at least Catholic liturgy, by keeping a solid, if vitiated, faith – think of Sarah Palin, or Mike Pence – is a testimony to that.
In fact, I wonder how many of these people have abandoned their attendance to Catholic Mass simply in order to keep a faith they were afraid of losing; something, mind my words, very wrong from a theological standpoint, but very real from the vantage point of a poorly catechised Catholic.
Stephen was a person who was able to convince his hearers of Christ. He attracted a following, and this led to those who considered themselves shepherds to be offended. They could not find any crime, so they made one up.
8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. 10 But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11 Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, 13 and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” 15 And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
I received a tutorial from my daughter about restarting facebook anonymously. The reason I closed my account was because at times I do interact with the wide world as part of my job, or more importantly, press. Kea does most of the social media: she's a civilian. And no, my social medial profile will remain... horizontal.
I expect the current leadership to lie to protect their sacred narrative. Most of the time the narrative they speak of is misinformed. They want certainty when there is doubt. They trust experts who are plausible and say what they want, not what is true.
And they want any dissent silenced. As the converts to Judaism did with Stephen.