Editorial: To whom shall we go?
“Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68).
Some version of these words, spoken by Simon Peter in the Gospel of John, appeared frequently in the overwhelming number of entries submitted by OSV Newsweekly readers in response to why they actively are choosing to stay in the Church amid times of scandal. Many submissions can be found in this week’s In Focus, and reading them is both inspiring and uplifting.
Wrote Melvin S. Arrington Jr.: “Jesus didn’t promise his Church freedom from persecution and scandal, but he did give his assurance that it would endure and prevail. For two millennia it has instructed, inspired and comforted millions of souls around the globe. Despite the current crisis, the Catholic Church continues to strengthen my faith. It enriches my life and gives me hope for the future.” Added Mandi Welman: “The Body of Christ is deeply wounded and in need of loving care and healing, not abandonment.”
Though we may be blind to it at times, especially during times of difficulty, there are many people who are deeply in love with Christ and who are dedicated to his Church and to sharing his Gospel message. Their words of love and commitment feel like a direct answer to the Lenten psalmist’s prayer: “A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit” (Ps 51:12). Such was the case with the Twelve Apostles who, at a time when many of Jesus’ followers abandoned him because of his challenging teaching on the Eucharist, remained faithful. “We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God,” Peter told his Lord, in response to Jesus’ question, “Do you also want to leave?” Two thousand years later, and countless times throughout the centuries when the Church has faced struggles, Peter’s conviction becomes the conviction of the dedicated faithful. To whom else, and where else, would we go?
The reflections in this week’s In Focus from our brothers and sisters in Christ written during another kind of challenging time for the Church are ideal for reading and contemplation during the Easter season. And they perhaps can serve, too, as a call to action for those of us who may not yet have seriously considered the question. What is it that compels us, even during times of difficulty, to remain a practicing member of the Catholic Church? Why is it, truly, that we stay?
The season of Easter, with its themes of resurrection, renewal and hope, can serve as the perfect opportunity for such a reflection. Furthermore, once we have formulated our answer, we will be in a position to articulate it to those who may be questioning their own faith — and questioning the faith of those they know to be committed believers. As we symbolically and beautifully pass the light of Christ to one another at the Easter vigil, so, too, we will be able to share the light of Christ with those who need it most.
Throughout the Easter season, the Church puts forth the stories of the early apostles through the Acts of the Apostles. We witness their love and their intentional desire to follow and imitate the Lord. By taking the time to reflect on, articulate and share our reasons for doing the same — especially during times of crisis — we follow in the footsteps of the first apostles and can remain on fire for Christ no matter what challenges we might face.
OSV Editorial Board: Gretchen R. Crowe, Scott Richert, York Young