A couple of weeks ago I posted an article about faithful Catholics feeling rather abandoned by their shepherds during this past year. My article “Flocking Mad, An Open Letter to Catholic Priests and Bishops,” was read by thousands with much feedback echoing comparable sentiments. Through comments, personal and public, people from all over shared how grateful they were for my “courage to express what they were feeling.”
I felt very strongly that this message was Divinely inspired, and so I surrendered it all to His Will. Our Shepherd, Bishop Olmsted, in whom I have great respect, wrote in response that it reminded him of the passage in Luke 12:48, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” He clearly understands that those who have been called by God to greater positions of authority in the Church, have weightier performance obligations.
While this is true, neither does it mean the rest of us get to mindlessly frolic in the pasture while they do all the heavy lifting.
In attempting to understand why many of us felt frustrated over these past fourteen months, I believe we kept waiting for our shepherds to act and lead us in the crisis, to comfort and extol, to challenge and step out in trust, to remind us by their actions and reactions– that fear is not of God. I believe that was the minimum expectation. Was that a faulty premises? It was scary for all of us. No one was left untouched. We were not demanding the impossible.
As faithful followers of Christ, we His sheeple, had a responsibility to hunker down in prayer, to continue to trust in God, despite the turmoil and fearmongering that raged on every media outlet. God is more powerful than this tiny blip on humanity’s radar screen. I am reminded of the scene in Matthew 14:24-32, when the boat is being tossed at sea and Jesus came to them walking on the water. He beckons Peter to come out. “But when he saw how [strong] the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’”
“When he saw how strong the wind was…,” Peter quickly sank into something far more dangerous, FEAR! Wind makes a lot of noise and does damage; fear does much worse.
We too, saw a big noisy storm blowing from all directions. We let it occupy our minds, take up residence in our hearts, and fill our homes. Did we cry out, Lord save us? Did we surrender ourselves and trust that the Lord would not let us drown? Did we rely only on human solutions? Because when Peter cried out, “Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” God was there for us, He never left.
Why do we doubt that the storms in our lives are bigger than the omnipotent God?
Countless times in Scripture we read about the awesome power of God to command nature, exorcise evil, raise the dead, transform hearts, and heal the sick. Maybe we think those are just fairy tales? Perhaps when Jesus reminds us that the size of our faith can move mountains, we assume he is exaggerating.
When our faith is little, it requires trials to grow. Step by step. Event by event. It does not magically happen without effort on our part. Spiritual muscles need to be exercised. Trust in God happens through learning to let go. Surrendering takes a lifetime, as we learn to relinquish control and put everything into the all-powerful hands of the Father. Faith requires stepping forward into the unknown.
Fear stunts our spiritual growth.
There is work to be done both by our Shepherds and by we the sheeple. God will not call us for something He has not equipped us to handle with His mighty help. We must pray daily for our clergy to be transformed by God. We must realize the good they are doing, rather than only dwell on the negative. We must pray for one another to be strengthened. We need each other. We are the One Body of Christ. Prayer helps us all!
How do we transform from bleating, frustrated sheep? We must get involved. We must put skin in the game. We must support, pray for, and encourage our shepherds. We are the Body; Christ is the Head. As the Body, we are His hands, feet, and love in this time and place. We need to get to work; we have gotten lazy.
It starts with us being holy people, raising holy families, and ridding ourselves of unholy habits. And sometimes it means raising a little holy hell by reminding one another to do our part, stand firm, and trust God who is in control. Nothing happens outside of His Providence.
We were made for heaven, not to graze in the pasture all day getting fat. All circumstances are opportunities to form us into holy pilgrims on the path towards heaven. “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Believe it. Your eternal life depends on it!