Why stay a faithful Catholic in today’s Church?
Celia stopped me recently asking: “Why do I even bother staying Catholic these days? I get up every day to another church scandal.” She continued, “Just when I think things are quieting down, another priest abuse story appears in the news.” With teary eyes she added: “The men I look to guide me on the path to heaven, let me down one after another.” Pausing Celia went on “The Bishops, our shepherds, supposed to protect us, even carry a shepherd staff to show us. Yet they seem more eager to protect these priests that harm others and not us, the sheep.”
Later Celia’s words flooded my thoughts as I read these Scriptures words: … Jesus passed by the sea of Galilee and saw Simon and his brother Andrew fishing and he said, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men. They left their nets and followed hm.” Later, he saw James and his brother John mending their nets and Jesus called them “Come follow me. They left their father, Zebedee and followed Jesus.”
What made Simon, Andrew, James, and John leave their work, friends, and family so quickly when Jesus called them? What was it about Jesus that made them drop everything and simply go with him? What did they see in him that sparked this life-changing decision?
Jesus gave no hints of what his “fishing” would demand? Or where it was to happen? Jesus doesn’t even tell them how lucrative his fishing would make them. Nothing mattered, but the man who was speaking? Whatever it was they saw in Jesus, heard in his voice, discovered in his spoken words or manner, they believed. It was enough to trust him, and follow him. Scripture simply says, “They left their nets and followed him.”
However, Jesus deeply touched them, and it was so profound they left all they treasured and went with Jesus letting him replace it all. They simply saw it, and followed without any need for questions.
Jesus’ call of these early disciples and their response sheds light on why we need to follow Jesus today, despite the scandals and our Bishops. Our faith is about Jesus, what we see in Jesus as we follow him, his words, and above all, the hunger Jesus satisfies deep within.
When Jesus calls, he proclaims to each of us “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.” Jesus is offering everyone, “I have wanted you and what you longed for - fulfillment.
Jesus knows we’re not perfect. We are human with flaws, sins, imperfections, and weaknesses. Yet Jesus still calls, asking us to repent our sinful ways, and even though we may never be totally cured of them, we follow him.
Jesus offered his first disciples, what he offers everyone he calls to follow him: “You will always be the person God created you to be, and I will help you realize the goodness you may not see.”
This is how Jesus “fished’” and received his first disciples, Simon, Andrew, James and John. Walking with Jesus, the goodness Jesus saw in them became visible and made them great apostles.
Later, when some of Jesus’ followers doubted him and began walking away, Jesus asked Peter: “Do you want to leave me too?” Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom would we go? Your words give eternal life.”
That’s still the answer Jesus looks for today. In the midst of our Church’s crisis and scandal, when shepherds hurt and lead his sheep astray, Jesus, is still calling followers like Celia, you, and me: “Hear me. Hear my words. Despite all the outcry, din, and clamor, my words haven’t changed. They lead to eternal life.”