As I mentioned yesterday I came into the Catholic Church about 27 months ago. It has been quite the ride, and as I will describe in a later post, a definite sense of “coming home.” Yet, I did not come into the Church blindly or imagining that all was perfect on this side of the “Tiber” (a reference to the river in Rome that Protestants symbolically cross over to enter the Catholic Church).
Over the past several months there has been an increase in reports of sexual sins in the Church, especially attributed to prelates (ecclesiastics of a high order) and that have been allegedly covered up by them. As these reports come out it reminds me, first of all, that we are all sinners, even those who have risen in the ranks of the Church. But also, that God’s word is true: “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit” (Galatians 6:7-8 NRSVCE).
The Church, the Bride of Christ, is called to “be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27) and when that is not the case–from the person in the pew to the college of cardinals–when there is no discernible difference between the dominant culture and the conduct of those who claim to follow Christ–we can only expect St. Peter’s admonition to be applied, “For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God” (1 Peter 4:17 NRSVCE).
A few years ago, a good friend of mine went from having a green card to becoming a citizen of the United States. I congratulated him and then I said, “Now, you are part of the problem!” As I said earlier, I did not come into Catholic Church blindly, I knew there have always been challenges and need for reform, and thank God, the Holy Spirit has raised up men and women throughout the centuries to bring reform to the Church that Christ founded upon the Apostles: Benedict, Peter Damian, Francis of Assisi, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, Charles Borromeo, Philip Neri, among others.
We are all called to respond to Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit to live in such a way that we humbly sow to the Spirit so that we may reap eternal life from the Holy Spirit. Our time, our Church, our culture is looking to us. “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13 NRSVCE).
In those moments of angst I’m reminded on this Sunday as we read the “Bread of Life” discourse, today and over the next few Sundays, that Jesus gave himself for the Church, he offers us life and we have the privilege of partaking of his Body and Blood in every Mass. Like Peter I say: “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69 NRSVCE).