Ruminations: What is the Church?


Note: I penned this reflection 3 weeks ago but was not sure about posting it at that moment. I accidently pulled it up today as I prepared to write on a different topic. As I reread my rumination from that day, I realized it mirrored much of my thoughts and prayers of this day. So in that spirit, I offer this reflection.

My initial intention for this post had to do with books I’ve been reading and other bits of stuff.

This morning, however, as I drove to my parish, I had an epiphany.

My epiphany came not as a bright light, or a dynamic plan.

It came instead as a reality check. And a relief. And a grace.

It came as the life blood of the Gospel, sinking into my bones.

Years ago, when I was younger and on fire with a zeal for ministry, I imagined that the Catholic Church was embracing, with great joy and relief, the spirit and the decisions of the Second Vatican Council. My belief strengthened my faith that the Holy Spirit was leading me into ministry of some sort. And more so, that we, the laity, would sit around the table with the ordained. And that new and fresh music would inspire us all into the work of the Gospel. And that creativity in liturgy would further this cause. And that all of us were informed, and willing Catholic Christians.

Then longer I work in the Church, the more I see great fallacy in this belief.

There are some people who believe as I do, who still have fires burning for the vision of V2, but we are not that completed vision of Church. We are a pilgrim people, seeking, growing. Sadly, there are so many who have confused piety and practices with God, and who feel that running back to some idealized memory of a 1950’s Church Triumphant will be the way to be true to the vision.

But we are not a Church Triumphant or militant. We are just people, people who seek Christ.

As we hear the scriptures speak to who and how Jesus cared for, the truth that we are simply broken people, aching for wholeness, emerges.

Yes, we are all sitting around the table.

We are the poor, the sick, the mentally ill, the homeless, the immigrant, the divorced, the homosexual, the disenfranchised.

We, the Church, are just people.

We have various degrees of commitment.

Some of us show up when we need something, much like those who came to Jesus for healing and then never returned. We are those so thirsty for God that we peak out before roots can grow deep. And then we leave, disheartened.  And there are those who continue to dig in and do the work.

This is the Church, plain and simple, normal everyday people, most who just want to try to be good people and life gets in the way.

It really doesn’t matter, does it? Jesus didn’t hold back from anyone.

It is Kairos, God’s time, that we ultimately walk through.   

Together, we help each other, accompany each other, heal each other, break bread together and try like hell to love one another.

We need each other folks. That is where God resides. In all the mess. Everyday.

It’s not sexy, as they say, but it’s church.

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