We are in another stage of the crisis in the Church, but anyone will tell you that to solve a crisis we need to find the root of the problem. The reason why we are in the crisis is because that was not done the first time.
In order to understand what we need to hear today, we can look at the readings in light of the current situation.
First, since the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report there have been several responses some angry at the Church and others angry at the Attorney General. Some say the report tells of great evils in the Church and others say it was grand standing to disparage the influence of the Catholic vote in an election year. The reality we have to remember is the validity of the report is actually a question that needs to be addressed by lawyers and, not being one, I cannot speak to the report one way or another.
But I can speak to the issues addressed in this and other reports from a spiritual Catholic perspective.
We are the Catholic Church, founded by Jesus Christ Himself and he left us His Body and Blood to strengthen us in our mission of going out into the whole world and preaching His Gospel. That is who we are: that means you and me every other Catholic in the world!!! Either we recognize who we are or we do not. Either we realize we are disciples of Christ or we do not.
One of the greatest dangers we have as Catholics is not to recognize who we are. The reality is we belong to the Church founded by Christ. if we walk two paths in that Church one foot on the world and one foot on the path to Christ we will be betraying Christ and will find ourselves in the world of Ananias and Saphira. You can read about them in the fifth chapter of the book of Acts of the Apostles, look them up. We either embrace Christ or we reject Him, there is no middle ground for to stand in the middle is to reject Him.
In the Old Testament reading and the Gospel we see two scenes of choices for God. The Old Testament reading comes to us from the Book of Joshua. Moses is dead and Joshua, who succeeded him, is standing with the Hebrews, forty years after the Exodus from Egypt in the land of Shechem. Joshua reminds the Hebrews that several pagan cultures surround them. They have a choice, either they embrace the commands of the God who freed their parents from slavery, or they embrace the pagan societies around them and the pagan gods that their ancestors worshipped. If they are going to be the people of God then they have one choice: embrace the commands and way of life God laid out to them. Joshua also warns them that if they choose not to embrace God’s commands, they do so at their own peril.
He then announces his choice when he proclaims: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.“
We see a reverse scene in the Gospel, where once Jesus explains about giving His flesh and Blood to eat and drink, virtually everyone walks away except the twelve. Why? Because those who remained wanted the one thing that Jesus promised: Eternal life. The rest were interested in other things.
The current crisis in the Church is actually based on the same dynamic. If we are going to be whom Jesus calls us to be, then we are agents of his message of eternal life before we are anything else. That means: me to you and everyone I interact with and that means you to your children, grandchildren, neighbors, co-workers etc.
If our loyalty is to anywhere else, then we are missing the point of why we are here at Mass, why we were baptized as Catholics. This is not about making us feel good or bad. It is not about affirming us in our American ways of life. It is not about getting us to support one candidate over another. It is about one thing: leading us to eternal life and prophetically leading others to eternal life.
Each and everyone one of us receive the call to be witnesses to the truth of Jesus Christ and that truth begins in science: We live in a universe that is bigger than we are biologically able to perceive and comprehend. So our understanding of whom we are is limited, it is our faith and the words of Jesus Christ that lead us to understand our humanity and our existence to a level greater than our biology can tell us.
The current problems in the Church find their roots in paganism that creeps into her when we lose a sense of why we are here. The same paganism that the Hebrews rejected when they walked into the promised land. For example, there is nothing wrong with education but a Harvard Education is not more important that your communion with Christ. If you get a Ph.D. from Harvard while turning your back on your faith, then you embrace a pagan standard of life. The same can be said for any other university including Boston College. If however, you embrace your Catholic faith and get a Ph.D. from Harvard or any other university including Boston College, then your education is a charism and your faith shows you how to use it.
Currently, there is an industry in our country that recruits women to abort their babies and then those baby parts are cannibalized and used in industry and scientific experimentation. Go home and read Jeremiah 19 and 32 where God is condemning the practice of child sacrifice to Ba’al and Molech respectively tell me we as a nation are doing right by the God who created every body and soul. What do we expect when our Catholic leaders are not addressing this among law makers but addressing other less pressing issues?
Homosexuality is prohibited in Judeo-Christian circles because it is a pagan practice and a pagan ideology. Sexuality is reserved for pro-creation in Catholic circles because God is the author of life. The current issues and rumors of homosexuality in the Church are rooted in paganism which is idolatry, idolatry is the worst sin in the Bible.
It is one thing for a man to embrace this sin who is not Catholic, it is another for a man to embrace this sin who also claims loyalty to Christ. However, the deeper issue is actually not just homosexuality but being driven by the passions which is a fidelity issue not exclusively a homosexual issue.
This crisis has been going on for sixteen years, but part one was put forth by political operatives who were working to silence the voice of the Catholic Church.
This part of the crisis, I believe is actually being put forth by the hand of God calling us to purify our Church. It is calling the bishops as most responsible for the souls to get their acts together and purify their worship.
According to published reports: now Pope Saint John Paul II, the successor to St. Peter, called the bishops in 2002 to do prayer and penance. They refused. Then they need to be humbled as what is going on now.
We need to heed the call: all of us and every day. Not to stand and join the bishops in circling wagons, but to stand before the Lord and allow Him to form us as His disciples to lead us away from sin and lead us to eternal life because that is what we are all about as Catholics everyday.
Pope Pius XI warned in 1931 referring to the damage caused by the letting run free the disordered passions of the soul: Disaster awaits us if we don’t daily heed to call to stay close to the Lord.
No genuine cure can be furnished for this lamentable ruin of souls, which, so long as it continues, will frustrate all efforts to regenerate society, unless men return openly and sincerely to the teaching of the Gospel, to the precepts of Him Who alone has the words of everlasting life,67 words which will never pass away, even if Heaven and earth will pass away.
(Pope Pius XI Quadragesimo Ano #136)
Therefore, if we truly choose to be whom God called us to be at our baptism, then we can say only one thing. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” And like Joshua, live those words, for that is the only way to Eternal life.