No news is good news right? Not it seems, in the culture we live in. At a time when the drive in the media is to have as many “followers” and “likes” as possible, good news has become no news since what sells most often is tragedy and division.
In a world where those who speak the loudest often get the most attention, stories of joy and light that are unfolding all around us are often passed over for sensationalism and scandal. This is true especially when it comes to the media coverage of the Catholic Church right now. You might be asking yourself why you should even bother with the Catholic Church or going to Mass at this time. You might feel particularly discouraged and upset. I understand. I cycle through a range of emotions as people ask me why I remain a Catholic and why I am a part of the Catholic Church. Here is part of my response:
Right now, as a church it feels like we are living through a particularly wounded period, but we forget that it has always been so for us as Catholics. For the past 2,000 years, the history of the Catholic Church has been punctuated with joy, triumph, trial, scandal and sainthood all bound together. We find all of this and much more in the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The cross, we are reminded, is the supreme example of woundedness into which each one of us is baptized. Unlike the secular world, where power and strength are exalted, in the Bible we are reminded that it is in our weakness, that we are made strong (2 Cor 12:11). It is in our sensitivity and vulnerability that we are made for greatness. It is in the times of the greatest darkness that the light of hope shines even brighter.
Each one of us bears the scars of heartbreak, grief, regret and the effects of sin in our own lives. Rather than drifting away from the practice of our faith at this time, it is a time for us to cling to our faith even more.
Just as we go to a hospital to be treated for illness, we go to Mass to receive the medicine of mercy and love that we cannot find anywhere else. Hospitals are not full of perfectly healthy people. In fact, they are set up to help people to heal and become whole. Pope Francis reminds us that what the church “needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful. … I see the church as a field hospital after battle.”
In our parishes, good news is happening all around us, and at Mass, right in front of us. Our parishes are spaces not for the perfect but for the weak to be strengthened and nourished. We should never feel ashamed of our brokenness in seeking out the Lord. He invites all to come to him and lay down our burdens and weariness (Mt 11:28-30).
We gather together as people broken but blessed to stand together. We go to church to be reminded of our living hope which has a name, Jesus Christ. We gather to remember our mission and to be nourished by the bread of life. And we know that through the excruciating agony of the cross came the joy of the Resurrection.
Let’s be people of hope, for others. We need each other, and the world needs our witness, our hope and our light. Let’s not leave Jesus because of Judas.
Stanz is director of Discipleship and Leadership Development for the Diocese of Green Bay.