Jesus and the Church

"We do not belong to the Church because of pope or hierarchy: we may like them or dislike them, but they are not the point. If we think they are handling the Church outrageously, our first instinctive reaction should be grief for Christ whose work they are damaging, whose face they are obscuring. In that feeling we should make our protest— “It is odd how seldom people who leave the institutional Church mention Christ; odd how seldom we notice the omission. One is reminded of the scorching attacks made by the prophets on institutional Israel. Had the prophets and all the holy ones abandoned it, there would have been no Israel left to produce Elizabeth and John the Baptist, Mary and Joseph and Peter and John and Paul, to say nothing of so many magnificent sons of Israel who never found Christ. But it never occurred to the men of virtue to leave. Israel was the people of God, and God was with his people.

“The running of the institution might be at any given period in good hands or bad, competent or incompetent: but institution there had to be; otherwise the treasures of truth and worship entrusted to the people of God would have been left to the mercy of every wind that blew and would soon have been reduced to a chaos of glittering bits and pieces. very much as St. John Fisher could say, ‘If the pope does not reform the curia, God will,’ yet die on the headsman’s block for papal supremacy.

“The trouble is that popes and bishops are so spectacularly present, Jesus so quietly. The world does not listen to him. How much listening do we ourselves do?”

“—he promised to be with us till the world ends, and he wants us to be with him.— books or lectures about honesty in the Church tend to be about the dishonesty of our leaders. But what matters most to our individual selves is our own honesty, that we should not be fooling ourselves—deceiving others is a sin, deceiving ourselves is insanity. Christ wants our company. Do we want his?”

(From “What Difference Does Jesus Make?" by F.J. Sheedj