Bishop Boyea’s comments at Flint Reformation Commemoration

Bishop Boyea spoke at the Commemoration service of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation at St Matthew, Flint on September 24:

Our starting point, of course, is that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Pruning is a reality which we must all face, if not by the word Jesus has spoken to us, then, by other forces which will move us to bear the fruit we are called to bear.

What strikes me about this imagery from the 15th chapter of St. John's Gospel is that there is a union here which is to be nurtured and welcomed if there is to be fruit and if we are not to become mere debris cast aside.

The historical event we commemorate today was not a good thing, because it led to division. Still it is important that we together remember this history, because it probably had to happen in this way since the union with Christ by so many members of the Church, from top to bottom, was being strangled by their sins. While division itself is not something to be celebrated, we do believe God can and does draw good out of anything, even division, we are here today to acknowledge that good.

First of all, reform suddenly became the catchword of Christians all over Europe. This was not just change for the sake of change, no re-forming things just to move the furniture around, but a reforming of hearts and minds to seek God and God's will in all things. This clearly affected everyone, including the Catholic Church as the course of the century proceeded. Pruning thus led to new fruit.

Secondly, corruption from so much sinfulness was to be addressed by a new and vibrant call to holiness, to a purification. A big part of this path to holiness has been a deeper focus on the Scriptures as the living Word of God. This too has been a fruit due to the pruning.

Finally, unity among Christians, while it has taken centuries to be sought, has always been the prayer of Jesus. The pruning which took place 500 years ago is leading to many new fruits as we seek greater unity in remaining in Christ. Unfortunately, it has taken 500 years of Jesus praying for this and for a lot of pruning along the way. But here we are seeking to be branches on the vine of Jesus Christ.

Whenever we seek greater unity and cooperation we are following Jesus' own prayer and who knows maybe some small step here will lead to greater unity down the road. Let's pray for that. Blessings on you all.