And As I sat with today’s scripture readings – the Gospel in Mark in which Jesus says “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house” – I thought of my sisters and brothers in the church justice movement working as prophets in a house that many times is unwelcoming and uninviting. I prayed for them.
On this day, I would need that passage, and those in this movement for a better church, more than I would know.
As I sat down at my desk and opened the digital news pages, I was reminded again of an institutional underbelly.
- A United Nations report assailing the Vatican over its handling – and continued complicity in – the sex abuse crises
- A story about an unmarried pregnant woman being fired from a Catholic school
- News of gay administrators being ousted for marrying their partners
Indeed the shadow side. For me, sadness, disappointment, even anger. There’s no getting around these injustices and the woundedness it’s causing. As they say, it is what it is. For many, that’s been a painful reality.
I recalled a hopeful story, too. A Catholic mother telling her disillusioned child, “Don’t let them keep you away” from the church. The church – you and I, the people of God, sensus fidelium.
The faithful want nothing to do with this underbelly. And they’re doing something about it:
- Catholics at the United Nations are invested in the sex abuse investigation and its recommendations. The fact that the UN is taking this up and speaking out is progress.
Where there is shadow, there can be light.
- Victims are speaking out about their experience and rallying others to join them in their quest for understanding, compassion, inclusion and love.
Where there is desolation, there can be consolation.
- Catholic organizations are seeking further reform and renewal, dialogue and consultation with the church they love but know can be better.
Where there is an underbelly, there can be the best of who we are.
There are countless other examples. The people of God are remarkable. Inspiring. Transformational. Dare I say it: prophets leading the way in a hierarchy resisting the Spirit’s – the church’s – greater calling.
You and I know these hurts aren’t the church Christ is cultivating in the Gospel. Consequently, we know it has to change. Fortunately for our church, the people of God are illuminating the way forward. On dark days such as this, it’s important to look toward and live into the light.
Ryan Hoffmann serves as the Director of Communications at Call To Action but everything in this piece is his personal reflection.