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Friday, August 20, 2021
From the Desk of Fr. Ron…….
Many Saints and other spiritual writers over the years have shared about the steps of growing in our faith. They are often likened to stages of faith development. Initially they begin with stages of consolation, joy and celebration followed by stages of discipline, order and structure. Later they even include stages of doubt so severe it almost leads one to despair. Sometimes, we are surprised to learn that even some of the most revered Saints suffered from incredible doubts. St. Therese of Lisieux on her deathbed struggled with these doubts.
In recent times we have witnessed an exodus of people from our Catholic Faith. This decline has most likely been in response to multiple challenges the Church has faced in the past. The clergy abuse scandal, varied episodes of monetary misconduct, not to mention more recent growing awareness of the malfeasance of certain indigenous training schools some of which we were involved in. We certainly are a church of sinners. It gives witness to the fact that the continuing of our faith over these past two millennium cannot rely solely upon just our human participation but of divine intervention and strength.
This weekend’s lessons may be seen as also focused upon those “turning points.” The chosen people have just crossed the Jordan river into the promised land. This is the fulfillment of their hopes and dreams. Joshua challenges the people of his day: “If it does not please you to serve the LORD, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” Joshua 24:15.
In the Gospel text from John chapter six people who heard Jesus proclaim Himself as the Bread of Life are challenged. “Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” John 6:60. “As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, ‘Do you also want to leave?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life’” John 6:66-68.
You may know people who have joined other Christian faith traditions due to the difficulties of the Catholic Church Family. Many families have adult children who were raised as faithful church goers who are now outside of regular church attendance. I have colleagues who have left over the years and have gotten married and now are ministers in other faith traditions. Doubt and despair drive people to make difficult choices. During those times Jesus would ask us, “will you also leave?” May we have the courage of St. Peter and reply: ‘Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’