st peter

At Mass, yesterday, the Gospel was the one where Jesus establishes His Church, setting Peter as the head of it.  He goes on, “…And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” These last words are very comforting, especially, in the very troubled times we live in. Today, we see priests being led astray; Church laws are being challenged and disobeyed; the moral code seems to be ignored, by almost everyone; People argue that abortion has nothing to do with the baby, it is all about the mother’s choice; Church attendance is falling off drastically; and respect for one another is just about non-existent. The gates of hell are doing everything they possibly can, at this time, to weaken, destroy or lead souls away from this institution by Christ.

Very often, we hear people use these very problems as excuses why they are no longer practicing any religion. It is as though these problems have justified their course of action to turn away and forfeit their souls. They feel they are no longer bound to live a life of self control, of denial, of practicing goodness and love for their fellow man. Rather, it’s every man for himself. Do whatever, you want, whenever you want, to whomever you want. The motto of today has become, “If you wait to grab it, someone else will grab it before you.” How very sad. How very tragic. Mankind is trying desperately, it seems, to eradicate all semblance of self control from life. The “ME” Generation is, like a black hole, caving in on itself.

We must look to Christ’s promise, “And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” If we lose sight of Jesus, in all of this, we lose hope. And without hope, our god becomes whatever we want, whatever we crave. In all of today’s problems, Jesus is still here, holding out His hand to us, waiting for us to take it. He will not thrust His hand in ours. His respect for our free will is such that He will wait for us to reach out willingly and embrace Him.

We must be aware of all the problems that beset our world. But, we must try to live our lives in a manner that will, inch by agonizing inch, begin to correct those problems. No, the goal is to not lose hope, but to trust Jesus, to marvel at His love for us, His goodness, and to keep our eyes focused on Him. The Prayer of St. Francis says this best:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

We are all part of the church. We are its members. We are the arms, legs, eyes, and ears of the Church. If someone, somewhere in the Church is suffering, we must mourn, we must try to alleviate the pain. We cannot sit on the sidelines and watch. We are either the problem, or the solution. To be a spectator is to be part of the problem.