For Easter, I decided to go to Mass with a close friend of mine. He’s attended Protestant services with me for the past month, so I thought that I ought to return the favor and go with him to his church.
Overall, it was a pretty uncomfortable experience. I won’t detail all of them here, but the most awkward moment of the night came during the priest’s homily. He began talking about relationships, but it quickly segued into a defense of the Catholic Church given the recent turn of events in Germany.
Though I disagreed with the direction of the homily on an Easter Sunday, the speech begged an interesting question: what happens to the Body of Christ when its leaders fall short of our expectations or, worse, fail to lead properly?
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 12, talks about the value of each part of the Body of Christ: “The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26, The Message).
This verse leaves me to wonder: how does the Body of Christ recover from the “hurt”? How does it continue to do Christ’s work when all the parts must suffer for one injury? Can’t the work of the church continue even when it is crippled in one part?
Though I did have some problems with what was said in the homily, I have to say that the priest was right in issuing a call to Catholics to defend their faith in the face of the onslaught from the media and the general public after the recent revelations about the child molestation cases in Germany. He had the right idea—the Body of Christ, the people of the faith should continue to stand strong, no matter what happens. In the end, being Catholic (and Christian, in general) is about a way of life and a belief in the saving power of Jesus Christ, not the actions of a select few. The church can still do its work, even if some of its leaders and teachers are a little misled in their action plan.
Despite all my questions about earthly leadership and the church, what I took away from the night is, the Body of Christ will always remain strong if it keeps its eyes on its true leader: God Himself. As Peter said, “God’s strong hand is on you…. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you” (1 Peter 5:6-7, The Message). It is difficult not to get caught up in the earthly events in the church, but God will never fail us. He is the true infallible leader, and he will heal the Body of Christ when it is injured and broken; he will lead it to victory even if one part is weakened.