6 May 2015
The Church is no stranger to disputes and debates. But even from the beginning, we’ve known where to turn for answers: we turn to God. Or we go where God is—we look to the New Jerusalem, the heavenly kingdom that’s saturated with the life of God. And from the beginning, the Church has been part of that kingdom. It’s a “place” where heaven and earth meet, where God and humanity share life together.
When we have a question about our life as Christians, we turn to God, and we turn to that place where God dwells: the Church, the community of faith. Maybe that’s why Psalm 122 is so joyful: “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord,” to “Jerusalem, built as a city with compact unity.” We should be able to turn others, especially those who are wiser than we are, to figure out the problems and questions we have as a Church, as a parish, as families, and as individuals.
But that only works if we’re each in union with Christ. As we heard this past Sunday, Jesus is the Vine and each of us is a branch on that Vine. And our functioning and health as a Church depends on each of us being attached that vine. But we can’t be attached to that Vine if we’re too busy trying to outsmart the next person; if we’re too busy doing the Lord’s work to spend any time with the Lord in humble, quiet prayer each day.
We can’t be attached to Christ our Vine if we’re too convinced of our rightness to listen to others who are, perhaps, wiser than we are. All those sins of pride, envy, anger, and sloth (among others) just stop the flow of Blood between the Vine and the branch. When the Church gets infected with those sins, she can’t function properly; and it’s harder to turn to the Church—to our fellow Christians—to figure out the problems we face in this present age.
And our problems are big. There’s a scandalous lack of belief, even in the most central mystery of our faith: the Eucharist. The Church is becoming more secularized, and the world less influenced by Christianity. So many of our youth are lost in a storm of competing values, or in a desert of no values. We keep turning to the latest trends, the latest books, the latest programs to revitalize the Church instead of turning to God and the Gospel. Our problems are many and large.
But, just as in the early Church, we know in our hearts where to turn for answers and guidance. We know that God alone is the One. All we need to do is turn to him. Not once in a while; not when we have time; but all the time. With humility, quietness of mind, and real faith . . . that God will show us the Way.