As I write this post, I am flying thousands of feet above planet earth on my way to a conference for teachers. Just as the plane is taking off, I scan the cabin to see the reactions on peoples’ faces. Most people, if not all, are distracted by their phones or other electronic devices, unamused by the miraculous feat that is taking place right beneath their feet. Maybe I don’t get out much, or everyone else has more important things to do, but I remained transfixed by the sheer speed and power of it all. As the city of Lexington became a blur, I began to realize just how small we really are. There is something about being this far above the ground that puts things into perspective. Putting ourselves at the mercy of plane mechanics and pilots does not seem to bother us, and yet we allow so many other things rob us of peace.
As Catholics, and Christians in general, we often see things through the lens of fear and uncertainty. Rulings like the Supreme Court decision on so-called same sex marriage is one of the things that can cause us to become fearful or angry (often the result of some fear). “What will come of our nation?” we ask desperately. Why doesn’t God intervene and set things straight? While all of our concerns are legitimate, our Lord Jesus Christ remains in the back of the our boat asleep. That’s right, he is asleep! Amid all the chaos and confusion, the Lord of the universe slumbers without a care. What is his response when we call out frantically for help? “Have you no faith?”
It’s hard to have faith when it seems like the world around you is headed the wrong direction. The disciples faced the very real possibility that their boat would sink during a turbulent storm. When they found Jesus asleep in the back of the boat, the disciples could not believe it and began to question our Lord. I can imagine myself bellowing: “Don’t you care about us, Jesus? We are going to drown and you decide to take a nap?” These would be reasonable enough complaints had they been directed at a family member, a friend, or a political leader. None of these people, however, have the power to calm the storm with the words “be still” like our Lord does.
But seriously, why does the Lord slumber through our turmoils? In short, because he has already overcome them! Our response to the storms of this life should not issue forth from fear because our Lord is with us and has “overcome the world” (John 16:33). If we truly believe this fact, then our response to the Supreme Court’s ruling shouldn’t make us fearful or angry. Instead, we should see this as an opportunity, a challenge even, to boldly share our faith in love.
As a Catholic Christian, I especially rejoice in the fact that the Church’s teaching on authentic marriage CANNOT change. Yes, you read that last part correctly, it cannot change. Though opinions may evolve, and new fads may arise, the Catholic Church remains to be, as scripture puts it, the pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). The truth is not subject to trends or public opinion. If it were, then any moral precept could simply be decided by majority vote. I don’t know about you, but I’m not willing to leave truth to the mere opinions of flawed individuals like myself. Either same sex “marriage” is wrong, or it is not; logic does not allow for a relativistic option. So, the question is not whether or not the church will change her teaching, but rather whether or not I will align myself with the rock of St. Peter or on the shifting sands of modernity? G. K. Chesterton, in his reflections on the relationship between the Church and the culture, put it this way:
“…there have been times in the Church’s history when it has been too much wedded to the world. But when it has been wedded to the world it has always found itself widowed by the world.”*
As for me, I find solace in the fact that the Catholic Church, as the true church founded by Jesus Christ, cannot change on this or any other teaching. Her mission is to safeguard the truths that have been passed down to her and not to bend to the almighty opinion polls.
I finish this post on the feast day of the first martyrs of the Catholic Church in Rome. How appropriate that on this day, when we remember those who were persecuted and killed for their faith, I finish a post on not fearing our own particular trials (though they be light in comparison). Catholics must rise to the occasion and brave yet another storm which threatens to breach the bow of the barque of St. Peter. May we do so with as much confidence as we would when boarding a plane, never losing sight of our Lord Jesus Christ who, to our surprise, is asleep in the back of the aircraft.
Peace be with you!
*Ahlquist, Dale. G. K. Chesterton: Apostle of Common Sense. Take from http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features/ahlquist_gk_pv.html