Bishop Edward Rice of the Diocese of Springfield – Cape Girardeau, during his homily this morning, called to mind the desire we have to belong. We have been reflecting on this all weekend, and Bishop Rice reminded us that we as humans have this desire to belong to something bigger than ourselves. For us as Catholics, we belong to Christ.
Bishop Rice pointed out that no one likes being an outsider and if we don’t feel like we belong to a group, we can feel unwanted and unloved. He then reminded us of the sacrament that immediately brings us into Christ and his Church. At our Baptism, we are immediately incorporated into the life of Christ. Bishop Rice reminded us that we no longer belong to ourselves, we belong to Christ.
We are brought into the life of Christ and the life of the Church as well, but Bishop Rice pointed out that sometimes we don’t like the Church. He said it’s very popular these days to hear people say they love Jesus, but don’t like the Church. With all of the scandal and hurt going on in our Church these days it’s very easy to see why people are abandoning Her.
Bishop Rice responds to this with a quote he heard on Catholic radio, “You cannot have God the Father if you do not have the Church as Mother.” He says that Christ and His Church are one. You cannot have Jesus without having the Church. In these times of scandal and hurt Bishop Rice, charges us to stay and fight for the Church and its renewal.
He says our Church is imperfect and even dysfunctional at times, but this makes sense. Our Church is made up of imperfect humans, but even with all of the scandal, Bishop Rice said we must understand who our neighbor is. He then connected this to our Gospel today saying, “Sometimes our Church can be like the man who was stripped, beaten, and robbed.”
We have to step up and fight to renew our Church. One of the reasons why I love these conferences so much is they constantly breed new and renewed followers and fighters for Christ. So as we leave this weekend and go back to our homes and sometimes broken churches, let us reflect on what resolutions we can do to make our Holy Mother Church better. And I leave you with this quote from Bishop Rice, which I pray will change our hearts:
“If we belong to Christ, then we belong to his Church.”