Church, we’re hurting right now. There are the varied crosses that each of us has, things we join to the bread and wine that will become the Body and Blood of the Incarnate Son. But we don’t expect the Church herself—especially her ordained leadership—to be building crosses of suffering, confusion, and anger for her people.
It threatens to sap the credibility and potency of our preaching. But always recall that the best space in which we speak is not merely human, not just our choice of words or opinion.
For example, it’s definitely not my opinion but the sound word of Saint Paul that we be “subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.” The subjection of wife to husband may sound objectionable nowadays, except alongside the command that husbands “love [their] wives as Christ loved the Church [by handing] Himself over to sanctify her.”
That seems the trouble: our failure as bishops and priests to love you sacrificially. St. Michael’s, the People of God everywhere, are my flesh and I am called to nourish and cherish you as my own, to present you to Christ in splendor, for holiness. That’s hard to do from an indifferent distance.
These failures to love make it harder for Christ’s Bride, the Church, to recognize Him as the Divine Bridegroom and to subject themselves to Him, just as inattentive, adulterous, addicted spouses devoid of sacrificial love might discourage loving subjection to them.
Like any other climate, the current one challenges everyone who wants to be their best. This applies to the Church as well as the “outside world,” especially since it’s become harder to tell a Catholic from anyone else.
Today’s Gospel opened with people walking away when Jesus said something difficult. What was the problem? Over the past few weeks Jesus was rolling out Eucharistic doctrine. To paraphrase: “Physical miracles won’t be enough to nourish your discipleship and lead you to eternal life. Instead, My heavenly Father gives you Me as the Bread that satisfies. Not just “Me” in some vague sense, but My flesh and blood. You will share in the eternal life I share with the Father if you gnaw on My flesh and slurp My blood.”
Pair that with St. Paul’s hard saying about mutual submission out of reverence. Consumption of the Eucharist corrects our consumption of each other as playthings, means to selfish ends. Membership in Christ’s Body, the Church, must change the way we think about and act towards each other. Decide, then, whom you will serve, and how you will sustain that service.