Second Sunday of Easter 2007
Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19
Recently I was at a very nice dinner. I was very impressed to say the least. It was a rather large gathering and I was seated with folks I had never met before. As I was taking my first bite, THE comment came from across the table; "Father, let me tell you what's wrong with the Church". Well, so much for a nice relaxing dinner. I have heard that statement many times along with things like; "The Church isn't what it use to be", the Church isn't doing this or that, etc. Interesting enough, I never hear anyone claim that there is anything wrong him or herself. It is always The Church that is the problem.
I have read op-ed pieces on various religious web sites that deal with the Roman Catholic Church and I am greatly puzzled by some of them. Why is it that there is always something "wrong" with the Church and never anything wrong with us, the people? We are the Church! If there is so much supposedly wrong with the Church, then why aren't we blaming ourselves? If we think the Church is not fervently proclaiming the Gospel, then wouldn't it make sense that it is our own personal lack of commitment that is the problem?
Listening to this individual say that the Church "isn't what it use to be", I asked what era of the Church he was referring to. Should we be more like the Church of the 3rd Century? 10th century? 18th Century? What century saw perfection?
So I was reflecting on what he said, especially when he talked of the Church's "lack of commitment". That statement made me almost choke on my food. So I asked him if he had ever tried to get people to come to a prayer service on the night American Idol is on! I mean, come on! you can't get people to turn off Sanjaya long enough to barely breathe let alone come to church! The blasted television, sporting events, concerts, etc. seem to always be more important! It isn't the Church that has changed but rather it is us! If we think the Church is lacking fervor then the blame rests on us. If we think the Church is watered down, then the problem is that WE the people are watering things down! The Church stands today firmly on Jesus Christ just as it did the day Jesus gave the Great Commission.
In our Gospel text today, Jesus gives the disciples the fantastic gift of the Holy Spirit. They are given power to proclaim the Good News of salvation. Fact is, we have been given that same gift! We have been baptized, confirmed, and receive the Body and Blood of Christ and are called to go forth and preach Jesus! The Church hasn't changed in it's mission, WE have. I think it is actually about US and OUR lack of commitment to God that is the problem.
Jesus stands before the disciples in our text and gives them everything they need to be his disciples. The same gift of the Spirit that Peter and the other disciples received is the same Spirit given to us today. However, WE have to say yes to that call and receive the gift. WE have to be dedicated. WE have to be faithful in our devotion and service to God. This is one of those times when we can say it is truly all about US. WE are the only one's responsible if things aren't going as well as we think they should be. God hasn't changed so it must be that WE are the one's who have changed.
With all that God has given us, WE must be diligent in doing God's work. So the next time WE think that something is wrong with the level of dedication in the Church, maybe WE need to turn off The Idol, get busy with prayer and be the faithful disciples we say the Lord needs. If WE are not willing to do that then WE need to stop complaining.