Monsignor Yennock on The Protestant Revolt After 500 Years - Homily from November 19, 2017

Nov 20, 2017

THE PROTESTANT REVOLT AFTER 500 YEARS.

THIRTY THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

NOVEMBER 19, 2017

ON OCTOBER 31, 2017 PROTESTANTS THE WORLD OVER COMMEMORATED 500 YEARS OF SEPARATION FROM THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. IN 1517 FATHER LUTHER TOOK STEPS TO LEAVE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. EVENTUALLY, OTHERS LIKE ZWINGLI CALVIN AND KING HENRY VIII ALSO LEFT.

IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY THERE WERE A HANDFUL OF DENOMINATIONS THAT SEPARATED FROM THE CATHOLIC CHURCH THEY CALLED THEMSELVES PROTESTERS OR PROTESTANTS. THEY PROTESTED CHURCH AUTHORITY.

500 YEARS LATER IN 2017 THERE ARE NOW 40,000 PROTESTANT DENOMINATIONS. THE PROLIFERATION OF PROTESTANT DENOMINATIONS WAS PROPELLED BY THE DOCTRINE OF PRIVATE INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLE.

500 YEARS IS A LONG TIME, AND THE PROTESTANT REVOLUTION IS A COMPLEX SUBJECT. AT THE RISK OF OVERSIMPLIFICATION I WILL ATTEMPT TO SHED SOME LIGHT ON HOW THE REFORMATION STARTED AND HOW WE ARE TO LOOK UPON IT TODAY.

IT IS AN HISTORICAL FACT THAT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS A DIRECT, UNBROKEN LINE BACK TO JESUS, PETER AND THE APOSTLES. IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY FATHER LUTHER, A CATHOLIC PRIEST IN GERMANY LEFT THAT UNBROKEN LINE.

HE REJECTED THE AUTHORITY OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TO INTERPRET THE BIBLE.

AMONG SEVERAL OTHER BELIEFS THAT WERE CONTRARY TO CENTURIES OF CATHOLIC CHURCH TEACHING, FATHER LUTHER CLAIMED THAT EVERY CHRISTIAN WAS CAPABLE OF INTERPRETING THE BIBLE ON HIS OWN.

IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT WHEN MARTIN LUTHER REJECTED THE AUTHORITY OF THE POPE HE OPENED THE DOOR FOR EVERYONE TO BE HIS OWN POPE.

SUDDENLY PARISHIONERS WERE SUBJECTED TO THE PERSONAL OPINION OF THEIR LOCAL PASTORS. THEY SUBSTITUTED THE AUTHORITY OF THE SUCCESSOR OF ST. PETER TO THE PERSONAL INTERPRETATION OF LOCAL PASTORS WHO HAD NO AUTHORITY FROM JESUS TO INTERPRET THE WORD OF GOD.   

IN FIVE HUNDRED YEARS OF PROTESTANTISM PRIVATE INTERPRETATION HAS PRODUCED 40,000 SEPARATE DENOMINATIONS TEACHING CONTRADICTORY DOCTRINES TO THEIR PEOPLE. THIS IS A SCANDAL.

NO ONE, NEITHER PROTESTANT NOR CATHOLIC SHOULD BE CELEBRATING DISUNITY. ALL CHRISTIANS SHOULD VIEW DISUNITY AS A SCANDAL WITHIN CHRISTIANITY. 

JESUS PRAYED FOR UNITY. ECUMENISM IS AN EFFORT TO ADDRESS THAT SCANDAL AMONG CHRISTIANS. EVERYONE SHOULD BE PRAYING TO BRING ABOUT UNITY AMONG CHRISTIANS. 

ONE WAY TO DESCRIBE BRIEFLY WHAT HAPPENED IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY AND HOW IT AFFECTED CHRISTIANS IS TO VIEW THAT HISTORY FROM THE EYES OF A FORMER PROTESTANT.

STEVE RAY IS A FORMER BAPTIST BIBLICAL SCHOLAR WHOSE LIFE IS DEVOTED TO INFORMING PROTESTANTS ABOUT WHAT IS CALLED THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION.

WHEN SPEAKING TO HIS PROTESTANT FRIENDS STEVE RAY DESCRIBES THE PRESENT CONDITION OF DISUNITY IN A LITTLE PARABLE THAT HE CALLS “THE SHIP AND THE RAFTS”. THIS IS HIS NARRATIVE.

IMAGINE A KING WHO ESTABLISHES A NEW COUNTRY ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE OCEAN. IN ORDER TO POPULATE HIS NEW LAND, HE CHOOSES THE PEOPLE THAT HE WANTS TO MAKE CITIZENS. NEXT, HE BUILDS A SHIP AND PREPARES HIS CHOSEN PEOPLE FOR THE LONG JOURNEY ACROSS THE OCEAN.

THE SHIP HE PROVIDES IS A LARGE, BEAUTIFUL OCEAN LINER WELL-EQUIPPED WITH EVERYTHING NEEDED FOR THE JOURNEY: FOOD AND WATER, SHOWERS WITH HOT WATER, NAVIGATION CHARTS, A CREW AND CAPTAIN, AND POWER TO MOVE THE SHIP. THE KING PUTS EVERYONE HE HAS CHOSEN ABOARD THIS SHIP AND SENDS THEM ON THEIR WAY TO THEIR NEW HOME. EVERYTHING NEEDED TO REACH THE NEW COUNTRY CAN BE FOUND ABOARD THAT SHIP.

OF COURSE, THE FOUNDER OF THIS NEW COUNTRY IS GOD, THE NEW COUNTRY IS HEAVEN, AND YOU AND I ARE THE ONES HE HAS CHOSEN TO JOURNEY THERE. THE SHIP THAT HE BUILT IS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, THE CAPTAIN IS THE POPE, AND THE CREW IS THE BISHOPS, PRIESTS AND DEACONS. THE NAVIGATION CHARTS ARE SCRIPTURE AND TRADITION. THE SHOWERS ARE THE SACRAMENTS OF BAPTISM AND RECONCILIATION, AND THE FOOD AND WATER FOR THE JOURNEY IS THE EUCHARIST. THE POWER THAT MOVES THE SHIP IS THE HOLY SPIRIT. EVERYTHING WE NEED TO REACH HEAVEN CAN BE FOUND WITHIN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

THE JOURNEY GOES SMOOTHLY UNTIL THE SHIP IS HALFWAY ACROSS THE OCEAN. THEN, SOME OF THE PASSENGERS START TO ARGUE AND PROTEST. LIKE THE ISRAELITES WHO GRUMBLED ABOUT THE MANNA IN THE DESERT, THEY BEGIN TO COMPLAIN ABOUT EATING THE SAME FOOD ALL THE TIME. THEY ASK, “WHO IS THIS CAPTAIN, AND WHY SHOULD HE BE IN CHARGE? WHO GAVE THESE CREW MEMBERS THE RIGHT TO TELL US WHAT TO DO?”

THE PROTESTERS GO DOWN INTO THE BOTTOM OF THE SHIP WHERE THEY FIND WOOD AND ROPE, AND THEY BUILD RAFTS FOR THEMSELVES. THEY COLLECT FOOD AND WATER, CLOTHING AND ANYTHING ELSE THEY CAN FIND, AND THROW THEMSELVES AND THEIR RAFTS OVER THE SIDE OF THE SHIP.

NOW, THEY DON’T HAVE TO LISTEN TO THE CAPTAIN AND CREW, OR EAT THAT SAME OLD FOOD OR EVEN TAKE THOSE HOT SHOWERS WHICH MADE THEM UNCOMFORTABLE. THEY ARE FREE!

THE SCENE IS AMAZING. INSTEAD OF A SINGLE SHIP SAILING FOR ITS HOME PORT, THERE ARE NOW 40,000 OR MORE SMALL RAFTS IN THE WATER AROUND THE SHIP!  NOW THIS BEAUTIFUL SHIP IS SURROUNDED BY 40,000 RAFTS BOBBING AROUND IT—EACH WITH ITS OWN CAPTAIN GIVING CONFLICTING AND CONTRADICTORY ORDERS.

AS THE SHIP CONTINUES TOWARD HEAVEN, SOME OF THE RAFTS REMAIN CLOSE BY, BUT OTHERS DRIFT OFF INTO THE DISTANCE, AND SOME ARE MOVING IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION AND HAVE LOST THEIR WAY COMPLETELY. THOSE RAFTS THAT ARE CLOSE TO THE SHIP ARE SHELTERED FROM SOME OF THE WIND AND WAVES; THOSE FARTHER AWAY ARE TOSSED ABOUT DURING THE STORMS. THE FARTHER AWAY THEY ARE, THE LESS CHANCE THEY HAVE TO MAKE IT TO THE OTHER SIDE.

EVERYTHING GOOD ON BOARD THE RAFTS CAME FROM THE SHIP, BUT NOW THEY ARE CUT OFF. EVENTUALLY, THE FOOD RUNS OUT, AND THE PEOPLE BEGIN TO EAT SOMETHING OTHER THAN WHAT THE KING PROVIDED. THERE ARE NO SHOWERS AVAILABLE FOR THE PEOPLE TO GET CLEAN AGAIN.

WHEN I WAS A PROTESTANT, I NEVER REALIZED THAT EVERYTHING GOOD THAT I HAD FROM MY PROTESTANT CHURCH CAME FROM THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. FOR EXAMPLE, THE BIBLE WAS PUT TOGETHER BY CATHOLIC BISHOPS AND COPIED AND PRESERVED BY CATHOLIC MONKS. MARTIN LUTHER EVEN ADMITTED THAT WE WOULDN’T HAVE A BIBLE IF IT WERE NOT FOR “THE PAPISTS.” MY PROTESTANT FELLOWSHIP ONLY HAD TWO SACRAMENTS, BAPTISM AND THE LORD’S SUPPER, WHILE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS SEVEN. THOSE WHO ARE STILL OUT ON THE RAFTS NEED TO BE REMINDED THAT EVERYTHING THEY HAVE, THEY GOT FROM THE MOTHER SHIP. A LOT OF THINGS ARE MISSING ON THE RAFT.

ONE INTERESTING POINT IS THAT I DID NOT JUMP OFF THE SHIP; I WAS BORN ON A RAFT. FOR A LONG TIME, I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THERE WAS A SHIP—IT WAS NOWHERE IN SIGHT! I WAS BORN ON A BAPTIST RAFT, AND I COULD YELL OVER TO THE METHODIST RAFT, AND THEY COULD YELL OVER TO THE EPISCOPALIAN RAFT, AND THEY COULD YELL OVER TO THE ANGLICAN RAFT, AND SO FORTH. WE CALLED THAT FELLOWSHIP.

THEN ONE DAY, I CAUGHT A GLIMPSE OF SOMETHING LARGE ON THE HORIZON, AND I SAID, “HEY, WHAT IS THAT?” THEY ANSWERED, “WE DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.” “WHY NOT,” I ASKED. “BECAUSE IT’S BAD.” “WHAT IS IT?” “IT’S THE SHIP.” OUT OF IGNORANCE, I ACCEPTED THE IDEA THAT THE SHIP WAS BAD.

ONE DAY, HOWEVER, IT DAWNED ON ME THAT THAT THE FOUNDER OF THE COUNTRY I WAS TRYING TO REACH HAD CREATED THE SHIP TO CARRY ME HOME SAFELY. “OF COURSE,” I THOUGHT. “WHY WOULD GOD CREATE 40,000 RAFTS, GOING IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS, COMPETING TO FERRY HIS PEOPLE HOME?”

AFTER READING AND RESEARCHING AND PRAYING, I GOT BACK ON BOARD THE SHIP. I BECAME A CATHOLIC, AND I’M AMAZED AT WHAT I HAVE FOUND ONBOARD.

CRADLE CATHOLICS MAY TAKE THESE THINGS FOR GRANTED, BUT WE CONVERTS ARE IN AWE. YOU HAVE SEVEN SACRAMENTS, AND THEY WORK! YOU HAVE NAVIGATION CHARTS: THE SCRIPTURES AND THE TRADITION THAT HELPS YOU MAKE SENSE OF THE MAPS. YOU HAVE A CREW THAT UNDERSTANDS HOW TO READ THE MAPS AND CHARTS WITHOUT ERROR, HOW TO PREPARE THE FOOD, THE EUCHARIST, PROPERLY, AND HOW TO OPERATE THE SHOWERS SO THAT WE CAN GET CLEANED UP FROM ALL THE FOULSMELLING SINS WE COMMIT. YOU ALSO HAVE A CAPTAIN, THE POPE, WHO ACTUALLY KNOWS WHERE HE’S GOING!

THIS PARABLE IS A DESCRPTION OF HOW ONE BAPTIST SCHOLAR LOOKED AT THE PROTESTANT REVOLT IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY. HE TRIES TO DESCRIBE THE PRESENT CONDITION OF PROTESTANTISM TODAY.

THIS IS A MAN WHO WAS A DEVOUT BAPTIST CHRISTIAN. HE UNDOUBTEDLY HAD GOOD CHRISTIAN PARENTS AND PASTORS WHO TAUGHT HIM TO PRAY, TO READ THE BIBLE AND TO LIVE A GOOD CHRISTIAN LIFE.

HE AND HIS WIFE TAUGHT BIBLE STUDY AND CONDUCTED BIBLICAL TOURS TO THE HOLY LAND.

AS A SCHOLAR AND A MAN OF INTEGRITY HE RECOGNIZED THE SCANDAL IN CHRISTIANITY OF 40,000 DIFFERENT DENOMINATIONS TEACHING CONTRADICTORY DOCTRINES. HE WAS SEARCHING FOR THE AUTHENTIC TRUTH THAT JESUS BROUGHT TO THE WORLD. HE DECIDED TO DO SOME INTENSE RESEARCH. THIS PURSUIT OF TRUTH LED HIM TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

HERE WAS A DEVOUT COUPLE WITH DEEP FAITH. THE BAPTIST CHURCH TAUGHT THEM TO LOVE JESUS CHRIST AS THEIR LORD AND SAVIOR. THE BAPTIST CHURCH TAUGHT THEM TO REVERENCE THE WORD OF GOD IN THE BIBLE.

THERE WAS ONE THING THAT THEIR CHUCH DIDN’T TEACH THEM. WHERE DID THEIR FAITH COME FROM? WHERE DID THE BIBLE COME FROM? WHO PRESERVED THE BIBLE AND TAUGHT IT TO THE PEOPLE FOR 1500 YEARS BEFORE THE PROTESTANT REVOLT? WHO PRESERVED THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS AND ESPECIALLY THE EUCHARIST FOR 1500 YEARS BEFORE THE PROTESTANT REVOLT?

THE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS LED THEM TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

STEVE RAY GIVES TALKS ALL OVER THE WORLD ABOUT HIS NEW FOUND FAITH. HE TELLS PEOPLE:” CRADLE CATHOLICS MAY TAKE THESE THINGS FOR GRANTED, BUT WE CONVERTS ARE IN AWE OVER WHAT YOU HAVE”.

AS WE LOOK BACK ON 500 YEARS OF HISTORY WE PRAY THAT WE WILL LEARN HOW TO AVOID THE MISTAKES OF THE PAST THAT BROUGHT ABOUT THIS REVOLT FROM THE ONE TRUE CHURCH. WE PRAY THAT WE WILL LOOK UPON ALL CHRISTIANS WITH LOVE AND RESPECT. WE PRAY THAT WE WILL GIVE GOOD EXAMPLE SO THAT UNITY AMONG CHRISTIANS WILL BECOME A REALITY TO END THE SCANDAL OF DISUNITY.