Divided We All Fall

by gary-foote on October 8, 2011

As I was reading Sacred Scripture today a verse struck me: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall (Luke 11:17). These words of Jesus were said when a crowd questioned by whose authority He was able to cast out demons, “Beelzebul” or “the finger of God.” Obviously, we would all attest to the truth that Jesus cast out demons by the finger of God because, well, He is God!

Although Jesus was answering a question about casting out demons, I think working in Catholic youth ministry as a Catholic youth speaker, Catholic youth volunteer, Catholic youth retreat leader, or any other title we can still be enlightened by what He said. How many of us have ever said, “If only Father SoandSo would come to one of our youth nights then maybe he’d understand why we need more money for our retreat!” Or, maybe you’ve thought to yourself, “Of course Mrs. Business Manager doesn’t have a problem being at staff meeting at 8:30 a.m. Monday morning. She wasn’t with the teens all weekend long and cleaning up the hall until 11:00 p.m. last night.” I could go on-and-on with different comments or thoughts that I’ve either had or said over the many years I’ve worked in youth ministry, but for the sake of your eyes and my hands I’ll stop with the examples here because I’m sure you can think of many more similar situations on your own.

The point is this: most parishes live as a “kingdom divided.” Too often we become territorial and close-minded. We start functioning as a business and not as a collective body of ministries. I look around the country at many parishes and see what Jesus was talking about so many years ago, “a house divided against itself will fall.” So how do we combat this? Well, the first place to start is with us! When was the last time you attended a ministry meeting that you are not involved with to just see what it looked like? When there was a scheduling conflict over one of the parish facilities, did you work with the other ministry to see how you could both benefit from the use of the space, or did you stake your claim since you were on the calendar first? Have you tried to find another option for a Confirmation student who can’t attend your mandatory retreat, or did you just tell his parent, “You knew about the retreat since the beginning of the year. You need to get your priorities straight or come back next year when things might work out differently in your schedule?”

We can’t change others no matter how hard we try. Yes, we need to pray for one another but the changing has to be left to God to do. The only person you can change is yourself. The best way to become a part of the solution in not allowing the house of God to fall upon itself is to avoid becoming part of the problem. Have open communication. Be flexible. Model the life that you are challenging the teens to live. Most of all, allow Christ to transform your life so much so that when others see you, they see the radiance of Christ in you and can’t help but want to work with you as a member of God’s family under one roof. Let’s stop the division, start the healing, and bring our family back together under our loving Father one parish at a time. Know I am praying for you and will do my part as well.

In Christ,

Gary Foote

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