A reflection in light of the sex-abuse scandals.
I recently read a comment about an Internet article that left me feeling very sorry for the writer. It was written in the context of a blog concerning the recent news about the sexual-abuse scandals. The man identified himself as “Disillusioned” and wrote more or less the following: “I fear for my children, myself, and my Church. I no longer trust my parish priest, my bishop, or anyone with authority in the Church. I’m afraid that if I speak out publicly, the Church will not come to defend me and the Truth. Really, I feel as if I’m on my own.”
Certainly, this man has his reasons for what he wrote. The tragedy of children abused by the ones that were closest to them, even some Catholic priests, makes one want to know if anyone can be trusted. The earthquakes in Chile and Haiti with hundreds of deaths put a big question mark on the idea of God’s Providence. It seems quite ironic that the phrase “In God We Trust” is written on every coin and dollar in the wallet of every American, yet sadly that same phrase may not be written on their hearts.
And here comes the fundamental question: are we really alone in this world? Has God just abandoned us to see if we are capable of making it on our own without his help? The answer is no. We are never alone. You are never alone. Even if everything else fails you, even if it seems like you are stuck with no one to turn to and no where to go, even when it seems there is no hope, there is one person who will never fail you. And that person is Christ.
This may seem hard to believe when we come face-to-face with the failure of some of Christ’s ministers, the very ones we would most expect to be the instruments to lead us towards the one they serve. Christ says in the Gospel, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach” (Matt. 23:2-3). One thing that Jesus most definitely does not say is, “If your religious leaders aren’t perfect, you have no reason to listen to them.” Even if some of the shepherds in the Church have left the care of the flock this is no reason to lose trust in every shepherd. What would happen to the sheep if they are left without a shepherd? Or worse still, if the sheep were to lose confidence in their shepherd and decided to take on the wolf themselves?
In the end it all comes down to what we have our hope placed in. As someone else mentions later on in that very same blog, our hope is not in this world—that is clearer now than it ever has been in most of our lives. But God will provide, and Truth will prevail, even as we see the darkness closing in. Remember: the darkness WILL NOT overcome the light.
Remembering that we are not alone in this fight is the key to victory. Imagine if a soldier in the middle of a battle were to break off from his unit because he saw one of his officials turn around and flee.What a tragedy that would be for the army! Our strength is not in our own cunning resources or will power. Our strength is in Christ who will never leave us alone in the fight. Now is the time more than ever to trust in Him and follow His lead. It is not the time to leave Him alone.
The example of Frodo in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings gives us a glimpse of what it means to trust in Christ. “‘Is there no escape then?’ said Frodo, looking round wildly. ‘If I move I shall be seen and hunted! If I stay, I shall draw them to me!’Strider laid his hand on his shoulder. ‘There is still hope,’ he said. ‘You are not alone.’”
We are not alone and never will be because Christ has left us a promise which He intends to keep: “remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
Sean Matthews, LC studies for the priesthood in Rome.