Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
(Responsorial: Psalm 89)
Too few people are aware that the bishops at Vatican II called on every Catholic to “undertake with vigor the task of renewal and reform” in response to abuses in the Church:
For although the Catholic Church has been endowed with all divinely revealed truth and with all means of grace, her members fail to live by them with all the fervor they should. As a result, the radiance of the Church’s face shines less brightly… and the growth of Christ’s kingdom is retarded.
Every Catholic must therefore aim at Christian perfection and… all play their part so that the Church, which bears in her own body the humility and dying of Jesus may daily be more purified and renewed, against the day when Christ will present her to himself in all her glory, without spot. 1
1 Samuel 8:4-22 warns us, however, to choose our solutions with care. When Samuel became old, his own sons began to take bribes and pervert justice.
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and said to Samuel, “You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways. Appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.”
God did not like the idea of a king. He said to Samuel, “They have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.” He then told Samuel to do what they wanted, but to warn them that human kings oppress:
“In that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves”… But the people refused to listen …. They said, “No! We are determined to have a king over us so that we also may be like other nations….”
When Church government is “like that of other nations’ we are in trouble! Cardinal Leger, Archbishop of Montreal, said in the Vatican Council that the “splendor” of the “ornaments and titles which we [bishops] often use against our will… are harmful to our pastoral ministry,” especially to the poor. “Perhaps this splendor was thought to be necessary when some bishops held secular authority as well. But in our time… such display is out of tune with our spirit.”
Jesus gave “our spirit” when he said, “The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them… It will not be so among you. Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant.” We need to remain aware of the dignity God sees in us and accept no pretense of any other.2
In Mark 2:1-12 Jesus said to those who doubted him: “that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic, “Stand up, take your mat and go home.”
The only power the Church needs to project is the power to forgive. And to heal the afflicted. Then the whole world will “sing the goodness of the Lord.”
Initiative: Identify what affects your awareness. Make it speak truth.
1 Decree on Ecumenism, no. 4. See also Church in the Modern World, no. 19; Apostolate of the Laity, nos. 3, 6, 10, 18, 25; Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 1913-1917; John Paul II, Exhortation after the Synod on Reconciliation, 1984, no. 16.
2 Council Speeches of Vatican II, ed. Kung et al., Paulist Press, 1964, pp. 114-115; Matthew 20:25.