“I give you the keys. Whatever you bind will be bound, whatever you loose will be loosed.”
Today we celebrate the feast of the St. Domenic, founder of the Dominican Order, and because of his historical relationship to St. Francis of Assisi, a “Holy Father” even to Franciscans. St. Domenic, and the Dominicans, have a charism to preach, and more specifically, to purge heresy from the Church.
The first heresy that St. Domenic, a 12th century priest, was charged to preach-out was known as the Albigensian heresy. Domenic’s first target thus, the Albigensians, a group of self-described believers who insisted that all matter was evil. Recycled from the early church, this heresy (at that time called docetism) arguably influenced the making of John’s gospel in the sense that John is the strongest proclamation of the opposite. It is the heresy that denies the humanity of Jesus Christ. Docetism denies that Word becomes flesh, that creation is good and that everything from God has dignity. And like all heresies, this one tends to resurface.
The heresy that denies material and therefore human goodness is the heresy that tempts all of us to exclude or to condemn those who are different from ourselves. If I deny that creation is good, essentially denying the first paragraph of John’s Gospel as well as the first chapter of Genesis, I deny that God became one of us, that God truly loves. And if I deny these things, which are a denial of the incarnation, I can more easily discard those who are different (races, cultures, creeds, genders, sexualities, etc). I can discard those who are small, weak, or unable to speak for themselves. I can abuse the power within me, and persecute my neighbour. And I can react as Peter does, frightened and angry, to Jesus’ revelation that a real Messiah gets crucified – that the gospel is rejected.
To deny that the Word becomes flesh is to deny the authentic love of God, it is to deny that the gospel is a living reality, and that even we as Church, bind and loose. Something we do with the help of God’s spirit alive in our flesh.
This may be the human beings’ greatest temptation - to deny our own inherent goodness, the image of God that we reflect, the spirit alive in all of us, and to therefore refuse to work for justice, peace, and mercy; such is to exclude and to condemn.
As people of God we posses the power, which is the love, of God. We behold the means to come together, to forge genuine peace and to reconcile, to build-up with Christ a kingdom of love and mercy, a place where all belong. And we posses all of this because the Word becomes flesh and dwells within us. May we take hold of the keys and bind what should be bound, and loose what ought to be set free.