Staying Despite Scandal: Jesus is the Reason

scandal

A time of scandal for the church, a time when high-ranking clerics were found to be complicit in the sexual abuse of children, is a time that brings to a point the question of being part of the church. Who wants to be part of something where the leaders were complicit in evil?

This is an understandable emotional reaction. Like all emotional reactions, it can benefit from some sober second thought. Without a doubt, it is horrible that some priests and bishops were doing wrong and covering it up. But the vast majority of priests and bishops have done no such wrong, and are as horrified by the wrongdoing as we are. The truth is that this evil is not something that is part of what the church is about, it is a contaminant that has found its way in: something dirty, to be vigorously scrubbed off.

This is also a good opportunity to ask ourselves honestly why we are part of the church. Are we part of the church because we bought into the deal: we laypeople do our things, such as attending on Sundays, putting money in the collection plate, and doing the various practical things expected of us, while the priests and clergy are holy on our behalf? Now that we know that some of those clergy haven’t done their part –  they’ve been unholy, not holy – should we quit doing our bit? They dropped their end. Why should we hold up our’s?

This is the wrong question, because the deal is the wrong idea of what the church is about. The truth is that holiness is for everyone, not just clergy, and the point of the whole church is to love, follow and become like Jesus. Some clergy failed in this, badly. This is sad, tragic, scandalous. But this should be no reason for us to fail too. It’s not fair to Jesus for us to quit following him because someone else did, no matter who that “someone else” happens to be. Instead, we should seek out and cling more tightly to Jesus, following him ever more closely. It is time to renew our own commitment to holiness. It is time to remember that we are in the church not because everyone in the church is holy and perfect, but because Jesus is holy and perfect. When others do wrong, when leaders fail, we must be steadfast. This is a time to pray fervently, stand faithfully, speak wisely, and love deeply. Jesus is the ultimate reason we are in the church, and Jesus is worth hanging on to.

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Agapios Theophilus

Agapios Theophilus

Agapios Theophilus is the "nom de plume" of a catholic layman who has loved Jesus from when, as a young boy in the 1970s, he first learned about him. His First Communion, at the age of seven, was the happiest day of his life, and he celebrates its anniversary each year. He lives in a large city with his beloved wife, two wonderful children, and an affectionate orange and white cat. He has no formal qualifications whatsoever to write about Jesus: he writes only because he has been given the great gift of knowing and loving him, and he would like others to come to know and love him too. See Agapios' posts at https://sites.google.com/view/agapios-theophilus and follow Agapios on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/a9apios

  • livetoinspire says:

    Agreed – this is a good time to focus on that we are the Church, the body of Christ. We are responsible for our own journey of holiness and this should not depend on the actions of a broken and hypocritical member of the clergy or the disfunction of an embarrassed organization that fails to address and protect those under their care. Even more than holding steadfast, if we are following Jesus maybe our actions should imitate his, casting out the moneychangers from the temple, speaking the truth, keeping constantly engaged even to the point of being crucified. He did not turn around and walk out in a huff, but spoke and acted with passion and care, healing those around him and preaching love. He proclaimed full ownership as the Son of God. We too follow in his footsteps as adoptive sons and daughters of God. If we believe this it demands ownership and involvement and a need to speak truth in love. We too need to heal, and speak, and be engaged, and as you so beautifully mentioned ” This is a time to pray fervently, stand faithfully, speak wisely, and love deeply” but also to act bravely within the situations we are living, claiming Christ as our priest and guide unfazed by the examples of our brothers that have failed to live the life of the Gospel preying on others for their own broken needs.

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