The past few months have been kind of depressing in the Catholic world. With the clergy sex abuse scandal flaring up once again, passionate and angry declarations have been dominating the daily news cycle. Our heads are swirling with various names and phrases: McCarrick, Viganò, Wuerl, cover-up, Martin, lavender mafia, Bergolio, settlements, seminaries, celibacy, Mansell, Cupich, PR statements, non-disclosure agreements, and on and on.
Some people are actually calling for Pope Francis to resign. Others are insisting that any criticism of the hierarchy is the work of Satan, as the Evil One attempts to create scandal in the Church.
Reports indicate that countless parishioners are leaving the Church, disgusted at the level of sin by the clergy and the cover-up by the leadership. Experts are certain dozens of states will follow Pennsylvania’s lead and conduct their own grand jury investigations, which will lead to further billions and billions of dollars in payouts to victims. Many pundits predict the financial impact will be so devastating, the Church will be forced to declare bankruptcy and may collapse entirely.
So, during this sad Season of Shame for Catholics, it is quite likely that many folks have been so focused on the failings of the Church, they’ve lost sight of the one and only reason the Church exists: to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Jesus founded the Church and declared the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. This is very comforting, especially during these times of crisis, when it seems Hell is doing a bang-up job of tearing the Church apart. We can and must remain confident that the Church will prevail in the end.
The Church needs to get back to the business for which it was founded: preaching the Good News of the Gospel. If you’re like me, you probably haven’t thought about that in quite a while, with the current scandal dominating the headlines.
Therefore, let’s have a little refresher course. What is the Good News of the Gospel anyway? We can simplify it down to four basic points:
First, God loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives. In our very secular culture, it’s easy to forget that there is indeed a supernatural divine Being who created the entire Universe, including all life on earth. And this Being, called God, did it all out of His abundant love. He knows each of us by name, and He desperately wants us to share in His love.
Second, unfortunately, human beings committed sin, which separated us from the love of God. Just like Adam and Eve after they sinned, we feel shame and fear, and we hide from God. This makes things even worse, as we get caught up more and more in the habit of sin and selfishness. It becomes a spiritual downward spiral.
Third, God provided us with a way out of our predicament: He sent His only Son, Jesus, to become a man and bridge the big gulf between God and humanity. Jesus’ death on the cross paid the price for our sin, and His Resurrection three days later conquered death once and for all.
Fourth, and best of all, Jesus promised that if we put our faith in Him and live our lives according to His teachings, we too can conquer death and spend eternity in God’s heavenly kingdom.
This is the basic Gospel message. The Church exists only to spread this message to a hurting world. It is truly the Good News.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the current scandals, if your faith life is sputtering these days because of the relentless negative news, spend some time focusing on the Good News. Spend some time focusing on Christ. Turn off your computer and all those negative reports, and open your Bible. Spend some time alone with Jesus in prayer.
The Good News is always good, no matter how often sinful members of the Church try to mess it up. Let’s not lose sight of that.