Everyone has heard the conversation…”If only the Catholic Church would change its stance on…” and then the litany of the aggrieved begins: birth control, gay marriage, women priests, premarital sex, divorce, abortion; “I’d be there every Sunday. I’d believe. I’d be fighting with you on those other things.” It’s funny that we as a people would place “if then” clauses on our relationship with God that we would not tolerate in a spouse or friend. “If you would have me love you, you must change” is not love, it’s control.
For those who love and follow the Church, these individual topics demand that we not get side tracked by the false bargain being offered. The Catholic Church, if it is the Universal and one True Church, does not need to change to be made in our image, we need to become made over in its. The Catholic Church if it is not the One and Universal True Church, does not need to change, as there are countless varieties of churches out there that would welcome someone with the precise template of religious tenets required. What keeps us from being Catholic is not the Church or its complicated and sometimes less than glorious history. What keeps us from being Catholic, is our own willingness to reject Christ, in both overtly and hidden ways, by how we conduct our lives.
The central doctrines and dogma of the Catholic Church is not up for a vote or debate, it is settled. We may disagree, but that merely illustrates our imperfection and unwillingness to yield to God’s will if we actually believe the Catholic Church to be authentically of Christ. We prefer our own ways to God’s. This is not surprising. We have been preferring our way to God’s since Eden, since Palm Sunday, since always.
Holy week is a time to remember, our way is “Crucify Him!” Our way is to be tempted to sell out for 30 pieces of silver. Our way is to run from the scene when recognized by others as a follower. Our way is to fall asleep at the hour of need and to pull out a sword to fight when our faith requires us to come willingly. We are the Pharisees who try to craft arguments to twist Christ’s words and deeds, as well as His silence to suit our own agendas. We are Pilate, refusing to stand up for what is good, true and beautiful, in light of the crowds.. We wash our hands of this Christ person when things get too frightening. The crowds were dense while the numbers of people who spoke to Jesus, who ministered to Jesus, who wept for Jesus, are a precious few.
God’s way finds one pressed into heart breaking service in what is apparently a lost cause. God’s way is very visible to the world in all things. God’s way is to walk the path to Golgotha, to find one’s self at best, at the foot of the cross.
The world seems very sure that it is right in so many things today, including the need for the Church to “get with the times.” If only the Church would…If only Christ had just taken over when we wanted to make Him King, things would have been so much better. If only the Church agreed with us in our own ways of thinking. The world is certain of much it should not be. It is up to Catholics to remind the world of how it could be. How it should be. How God would have it be if we only submitted to His Will instead of our own. If only.