What's In Your Heart?
What in our hearts is good and clean and holy? What in us in sinful and evil? How do we grow stronger in all that is good and holy and leave behind sinfulness?
That's the question I hear in the Gospel this weekend. Under the guise of talking about the Judaic laws of ritual cleanliness, the Pharisees and scribes question Jesus on the behavior of his disciples and why they are not following the proscribed laws.
Jesus' answer is quite direct. He challenges them to look at the heart of their actions and he names those actions for exactly what they are: evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance and folly. All these evils, Jesus says, come from inside our very selves and they defile us.
Sadly, I guess there really is "nothing new under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:4) These last few weeks we have seen the tragedy of evil and sinfulness on the part of our leaders. How our young people were sacrificed for the sake of an institution trying to protect its reputation. Today's scripture calls out to us to look at how we choose to live our lives, and how we need to make serious changes as we seek to move forward.
Changes need to happen on every level. All of us need to examine our hearts. If we're honest with ourselves, those sinful behaviors that Jesus delineates in today's Gospel, we all participate in one or another of them at some points in our lives. Hopefully we are growing stronger and more virtuous as we seek to live our faith more authentically. Some days we do better than others.
Yes, the hierarchical church needs to change, must change in real substantive ways. We, the laity, need to look at ways in which we can call our bishops and priests to a deep and real conversion. Can we, laity and clergy together, grow in an awareness that each of us were called at our baptism to be leaders in this church? What if we could create a new model for leadership in the church that is based on humble loving service, as Jesus imaged for us at the last supper, and not a leadership based on power, prestige and titles? What would that church look like? What amazing gifts would THAT church bring to our world?
This is not in any way to excuse horrific behavior on the part of many sick, broken or power hungry men. It is a call to each of us in the pews to figure out quickly how we, like John the Baptist need to speak our truth to the powers that be. We the faithful must claim our voice in how the church will start to heal from this terrible crisis. What happens next isn't up to "them" or "the Pope" alone, we have a responsibility to be a part of the healing process as well.
In Sunday's Gospel Jesus calls us out on our sinful behavior. All of us. What we do next is up to us. Do we have the courage to step forward and try to help create a new vision of a holy and healthy church?