In today's Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples about his upcoming death and resurrection. But, they didn't understand him. Instead, they argued among themselves about who was the greatest. It is amazing that they didn't focus on Jesus but on themselves. But, it's also so human. Instead of reflecting on this incredible event which Jesus described to them, they just argued. Isn't this a typical human response sometimes when we are facing challenging times? We focus on ourselves and our needs. Maybe we even run away from the problem.
In the book, Heroic Leadership, the author describes four principles which guided the Jesuits during their many difficult times. The last principle, which is the most important one is: "When the opportunity presents itself, do something heroic." As we heard in the Gospel, the disciples weren't able to do something heroic. They didn't understand. And when Jesus was crucified, eleven out of twelve weren't there for him. Fortunately, after they received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, all of them, except for Judas answered the call and performed many heroic acts. All of them, except for John, who was there for Jesus at the foot of the cross, eventually died as martyrs.
What message is there in this Gospel for us today as we see our Church dealing with scandal?
We are all angered and frustrated by the abuse scandal and the reported actions of some of our bishops. But, now is not the time to abandon Christ and his Church. This is the coward's way out. It is what the devil wants us to do. Now is the time to be at the foot of the cross. This is the heroic action for each of us. We are meant to pray, to persevere, and to stand strong. We are meant to accept any ridicule that we may experience and to turn the other cheek.
These scandals are clearly the work of the devil. As we hear in the second reading: "Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice." This describes the situation that we witness in the scandals. Selfish ambition leading to disorder and foul practice. Then, James gives us the response to this evil saying: " But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gently compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace."
Are we at peace with our Church in light of the abuse scandal? Have we turned to the Lord for his wisdom? Are we righteous in our own words and actions?
We should be spending more time praying for our church than we spend reading articles or watching videos about the scandal. We should put this scandal into the perspective of the long history of the church. The church has faced scandal many times before. The devil continues to attack Jesus' Church, just like he tempted Jesus in the desert. Like those previous scandals in the church, this one will be painful and difficult, but Jesus' church will be purified and will emerge stronger as a result of it. Jesus promised us that when he said: "You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it."
The first reading tells us: "The wicked say: Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us, he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law." Many people are using this scandal to attack the church. Some are suggesting that we fire all the bishops and others that we allow priests to marry. They are doing the work of the evil one as they attempt to bring down the church, which is the source of truth and a counterbalance to the many sins of our current culture.
Hopefully, all of us, and especially our bishops, realize that our role, as baptized Christians, is not to protect the status quo. Our church is not some club or political organization which just needs a housecleaning and few new rules. Our church must be by its nature missionary. And the mission of everyone who belongs to the church, including all of us, is to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ thru our words and actions. We are meant to be missionary disciples and to bring others to Christ as we are trying to do at our Welcome weekends. If we do this, we will continue to be hated by many in our culture. And that's OK, Jesus and his apostles were hated also.
The first reading tells us that God will take care of a just man. Do we trust in God? When we struggle in our lives or when we witness the scandals in our Church, do we trust that God has our back?
The second reading tells us that Wisdom from above is peaceable. Today, let us trust God in all things and so that we can find eternal peace.