Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Hold on to the Barque of Peter

Photo by Stijn Swinnen on Unsplash

Scandals in and around the Church are not new. Since time immemorial there have been scandals within its walls and in the hearts of those who strive to follow her ways. So how do we deal with scandal? How do we process scandals involving clergy, Bishops, and Cardinals without becoming discouraged and well, scandalized?

First, let us look at the reason for our faith: Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ should be the only reason for our faith. Jesus Christ truly present in the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith and all else should only be secondary.

Jesus Christ was also surrounded by scandal in His time. As Jesus addressed the Pharisees he said: "You brood of vipers, how can you say good things when you are evil? For from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. A good person brings forth good out of a store of goodness, but an evil person brings forth evil out of a store of evil." Matthew 12:34-35 Nothing has changed. No new sin has been invented since the time of Jesus. Man's inclination to sin and concupiscence is the same today as it was yesterday.

Was Jesus scandalized? No. Was he merciful? Yes. Did he speak the truth? Yes. He addressed the issue and reprimanded those who, steeped in sin and arrogance, did not recognize their faults and led "the little one's astray". But to those who sought honest and genuine forgiveness, he showed great mercy. Jesus said about the sinful woman who bathed his feet with her tears, "So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven loves little.” Luke 7:47. For the root of sin is pride and so the only way to seek forgiveness for our sins is through humility.

What with the recent scandals in the Catholic Church I only see it one way: compassion must be shown for the downtrodden state of the sinner's soul; especially those steeped in addiction and vice. But to those who do not seek honest conversion in their life, little can be done for their souls. Pope Francis often addresses the clergy and hierarchy of the Church with words of reprimand. While to the little ones of his flock, those led astray, he addresses them with words of mercy. Why is it? "Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more." Luke 12: 48

Now is not the time to abandon the Church. Now is precisely the time to hold on tighter than ever. The scandals that the Church is facing, particularly the scandals from within her walls, those at the highest of levels, are the ones that should prove to us that the enemy is prowling close. The enemy is relentless, he goes for the helm of Peter's barque. The enemy only seeks to destroy that which goes against his kingdom of division and lies. The Church is a sign of hope despite the sinfulness of those who lead her, because it is Christ who is victorious and makes her holy! It is now, more than ever, that as lay people, we must pray for those who lead the Church.

Yes, we may be scandalized. Yes, we may be disappointed. We may even feel like giving up altogether but our faith is not in man, but in God. The enemy has infiltrated from within since the establishment of the Church. Judas was the first to cooperate with the enemy. We know the end of that story. But we are assured by Christ himself that the enemy has no hold over His Church. The enemy, even when trying to destroy from within, has already been defeated. He said to Peter: "...upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. " Matthew 16:18

Two thousand plus years have come and gone. Kingdoms, Empires, Kings, and Princess have all come and gone. Enemies have come and gone. The light has been cast upon the darkness that has operated from within her confines and yet the Church still stands. Our Lord is ever faithful because it is He who provides eternal life. It is He who made the promise, after asking us to observe all that He commanded us, "And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20. It is He who is with us in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; in the Eucharist; the sign of His everlasting love. Whether we receive Him through the hands of a holy or sinful priest, it is still Jesus! It is He who is the reason for our belief and our hope.

"Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good? But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame." 1 Peter 3:13-16

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