instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, January 12, 2004

And they is us

When I see someone say, "The problem with the Church today is the liberal bishops" -- or "the rigid Curia," or "the gay priests," or "the fearful traditionalists" --- my first thought is usually, "Well, at least the problem isn't me."

Alas, the problem with the Church today isn't the liberal bishops, or the rigid Curia, or with any othey they you choose. The problem with the Church today is sin, a willful turning away from God, and it's not very satisfying to choose "sinners" as your they.

But even if we have a speck in our eye while they have a plank, grousing about them betrays a misunderstanding of what Christian discipleship is all about.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
Yes, different people play different parts in the Mystical Body of Christ, but no one is assigned a passive role. If I wish to come after Jesus into the eternal presence of God, then I must deny myself. My bishop can't deny me on my behalf. The pope isn't going to tell St. Peter, "Oh, he's with me," when I arrive at the Pearly Gates.

This brings up the "both/and" tension in Catholicism, between both the fact that I choose for myself and the fact that we're all in this together. If someone else is failing, that is a cause for sorrow, for prayer, and sometimes for strong words. But it is not a cause for abandonment, and it's certainly not a cause for self-praise that I am not waiting for someone else before I choose to deny myself and take up my cross.