Και ειπεν αυτοις, Πορευθέντες εις τον κόσμον απαντα, κηρυξατε το ευαγγέλιον πάση τη κτίσει.
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Mark 16:15 KJV
‘To every creature,’ a charming, even romantic idea, bequeathed to the English-speaking culture by the Bible version which has been its mainstay for four centuries and almost four years (1611 to 2014). The literal Greek says ‘to all creation,’ a somewhat less poetic concept, but one that ties in, scripturally, a lot better with the rest of the New Testament, the ‘old creation’ versus the ‘new creation,’ the defining movement in the plan of salvation. ‘Behold, I make all things new’ (Revelation 21:5). People sometimes forget that movement, narrowing the Message down to personal salvation, ‘Are you saved?’ when the work of Christ, salvation, yes, but the universal re-creation of all things, was perfected on the Cross, ‘It is finished!’ (John 19:30)
‘To every creature,’ makes me think of St Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds, or reprimanding and converting the wolf of Gubbio. His ‘simple-minded zeal’ landed him not at the fires of the Inquisition, as he was warned by an unconverted friend, but in the company of the Saints, and only two years after his repose. By some who think about such things, he is considered to have been the first ‘modern’ man. It’s not hard to see why. Though we’d rather have statues of him in our gardens, his radical approach to ‘all creatures’ is what we should have, not in our gardens but in our minds. Yet St Francis was only saying and doing what he saw his Lord, Jesus Christ, saying and doing in the gospels. That is what makes a truly ‘modern’ man.
Recently the Roman Catholic Church convened a synod to consider ‘the family,’ and how best the Church can support and save it in this modern world. (I am using the word ‘modern’ here and everywhere in its most basic meaning, not in a philosophical one.) Everyone was waiting to see if, how and when the current legalization of homosexual marriage in many places would be integrated into the Church. Since the Church is not the world, but the world is the mission field of the Church, what would it do with this new territory? When its documents were issued by the synod, the English, and only the English, translation of the topic ‘Welcoming homosexual persons’ was edited to ‘Providing for homosexual persons.’
This is an important first step for the largest Christian communion in the world to take, and I am not surprised that it has been taken during the pontificate of a pope named Francis. To me, both would have been unthinkable considering the projectile along which the Catholic Church had been traveling since the two Vatican Councils, but then, if God is real, and if the Church is in some way guided by Him, one should expect such things from a Christ who says, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ In fact, it is only because of human resistance to Divine order that it has taken so long. Now, perhaps, we are finally on the threshold of that ‘next step in human evolution’ that was commanded two thousand years ago by the first truly ‘modern’ man in history.
That is, Jesus Christ, who says, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.’