Decades ago, I ranted and raved at the efficient, organized people who tried to carry out their own personal agendas within the Catholic Church. Yet I lacked the words to connect with these proactive Catholics who dismissed me as some sort of irrelevant, passive mystic. It seemed that I was the proverbial contemplative Mary type trying to reason with practical Martha types, all to no avail. I have literally given up on committees for years as a result, because the impasse is simply too frustrating.
Often busy Catholics think that they can bring the methods of the secular business world and use them in the kingdom of God. Yet the truth is that Church growth and Christian activities are all about God’s actions, not man’s. Listen to Pope Francis:
As for us, if we wish to form church, we need only to listen and respond to God who acts and speaks first. Of course, our response is not perfect. As Pope Francis reminds us, “When we recognize that we are sinners, God fills us with His mercy and love, and He forgives us. He always forgives us. This is what makes us grow as the people of God, the church.”
Throughout a teaching on The Nature of the Church, the Holy Father reminds us of man’s pride, egoism and hardness of heart. These are the traits that drive man to take the initiative, to take control.
During this audience, Pope Francis gently chided us for both our self-centered idea that it is we who form Church, and challenged the way we look at the Church. However, as usual, he closes with inspiring words that both warm our hearts and encourage us.
“When God called Abraham this was His plan: form a people blessed by His love and who would bring His blessing to all the people of the earth. This plan has never changed and in Christ it reached its fulfillment and, still today, God continues this work in the church… I like to think that a synonym for being Christian is being men and women – a people – who always bless. Through their lives, Christians must always bless God and bless others….It’s a beautiful vocation.”
As Catholics ,we must always remind ourselves that God reveals Himself to us and we simply respond. When we recognize that it’s not all about us, we begin to develop a spirit of humility. Believing in revelation means that we are to be aware and responsive to God’s initiative, and we stop trying to build church on our own.
It is impossible to be spiritually proactive; anybody who tries always ended up with disastrous results. Just look at Adam and Eve, and the people who built the Tower of Babel, and Judas.