Thinking Anew – A shining light to the world
The “demise” of the Catholic Church in Ireland is on the tongues of many people. Within the church there are at times signs of panic. It might well be fair to say that people simply do not know what to do.
There is the school of thought that believes the clerical child sex abuse revelations alienated large numbers of people from the church. There are those who will say that there is a secular world “out there” that is hell-bent on destroying the Catholic Church in Ireland and, indeed, all Christian churches.
Because of the large fall-off in church attendances, it is easy for an atmosphere of entrenchment to set in. Every issue becomes a call to battle and it is always “them versus us”. That in turn leads to a breakdown in trust and friendship between people. That camaraderie is also breaking down in the church and within priesthood.
To mention God’s word, one needs to take a deep breath. We have to be extremely careful explaining how the guiding hand of God influences the churches. To study history and to follow the 2,000-year life of Christianity one is forced to see the good, the bad and the ugly.
The 96-year-old life of the Irish State and the predominant role the Catholic Church has played in that period, again show up the good, the bad and the ugly. Anywhere there are human beings, there is the possibility that evil and wrongdoing will happen.
Probably because the churches spoke or indeed speak in such dogmatic terms, then when it happens that their own members are discovered doing wrong it is inevitable that they will be ridiculed.
When churches have vast financial resources and wield enormous material power, it is also inevitable that people will say there is something wrong here. To add to the current state of play of church life, the world in general at present seems to be in a state of flux. Then again, maybe it always was, but right now we are in a position to know what is happening in every corner of the globe as it happens.
In tomorrow’s second reading St Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians tells his readers: “While the Jews demand miracles and the Greeks look for wisdom, here are we preaching a crucified Christ; to the Jews an obstacle they cannot get over, to the pagans madness, but to those who have been called, whether they are Jews or Greeks, a Christ who is the power and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1: 22-24).
Belief in God, belief that Jesus Christ is both human and divine is a lifelong learning journey in faith. People cannot be forced to believe in God or Jesus Christ, nor should they.
Also, it is easy to find excuses and obstacles to dismiss God out of our lives.
In tomorrow’s Gospel we see what Jesus has to say to the money changers in the Temple. “Take all this out of here and stop turning my Father’s house into a market” (John 2: 16). Once we mention God’s word, once we say that Jesus Christ is God, it is inevitable that there will be doubt and disagreement.
But if we believe in the Word of God as individuals and as members of the Christian community our words, our way of life will be a shining light to the world, and also to those who do not believe.
If we genuinely believe that we are all made in the image and likeness of God, then surely our kindness, our goodness will radiate its worth right in front of people’s eyes.
Our faith in God and in Jesus Christ as our Lord and saviour transcends everything, just as kindness and goodness do. And as St Paul tells us, Christ is the power and wisdom of God.
We find our faith and see faith in the little things, right in front of our eyes.
Could it be that we have made our faith into a political football, surrounded by power and control? Was it something like that that Jesus saw in the Temple that day when he drove out the money changers and scattered them?
Perhaps the Holy Spirit is nudging us away from the world of the money changers and directing us towards the Word of God?