FEARS IN THE CHURCH
It’s probably fear that most paralyzes Christians in the faithful following of Jesus Christ. In today’s Church there is sin and weakness, but above all there’s fear of taking risks. We’ve started the third millennium without the boldness to creatively renew the living of Christian faith. It’s not difficult to point out some of these fears.
We’re afraid of what’s new, as if ‘to conserve the past’ automatically guarantees Gospel faithfulness. It’s certain that the Second Vatican Council roundly affirmed that we had to have «a constant reform» in the Church, since «as a human institution we constantly need it». However it’s no less certain that what’s going on at the present moment in the Church isn’t so much a spirit of renovation as an instinct of self-preservation.
We’re afraid of taking on the tension and conflicts that come with seeking Gospel faithfulness. We fall silent when we should speak out; we hold ourselves back when we ought to intervene. The debate of important questions is forbidden, in order to avoid stands that could upset us; we prefer routine adherence that carries with it no problems or disfavor from the hierarchy.
We’re afraid of creative theological investigation. Fear of revising rituals and liturgical language that don’t help today’s living celebration of faith. Fear of speaking about ‘human rights’ within the Church. Fear of recognizing in practical ways a role for women more in line with Jesus’ spirit.
We’re afraid of putting mercy ahead of everything else, forgetting that the Church hasn’t received «the ministry of judgment and condemnation» but «the ministry of reconciliation». We’re afraid of welcoming sinners as Jesus did. With difficulty you could say of the Church today that she’s «a friend of sinners», as was said of her Master.
According to the Gospel story, the disciples fell to the earth «full of fear» when they heard a voice that said to them: «This is my Son, the Beloved… listen to him». It’s a fearful thing to listen only to Jesus. It’s the same Jesus who comes close, touches them, and says to them: «Stand up, do not be afraid». Only the living contact with Christ could free us from so much fear.
Jose Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf